Reviews of American Wine Schools
Each school is given a ranking on a hundred point scale. This ranking is based on three factors that greatly contribute to the success of sommelier students.
#1. School Fundamentals
Wine education has progressed a great deal in the past two decades. In the early years, classes were held in back rooms of wine shops and restaurants. Often those classes were taught by a wine rep who donated the wines. Wine certification was neither particularly well respected nor organized at the time. Things have changed dramatically.
It is is now expected that classes and exams are held at a well-appointed school. The facility should have at least one classroom designed specifically for wine education; it may also offer cooking and fermentation facilities.
The instruction at a wine school is critical to the student’s success. It is essential to attend classes by a talented and knowledgeable teacher. We have found this matters more than what certification program the teacher is affiliated with. While there are many good instructors without formal training, we consider an excellent teacher to have a masters degree, 10 years in the trade, and a Level 4 certification.
#2. School Accreditation
There are three levels of accreditation. The highest level of accreditation allows a school to issue a university degree. However, there are (currently) no sommelier programs that offer a full four-year degree. The second level can issue a professional diploma, which is state authorized and comparable to an Associate degree. There are several schools that offer this level of certification. The lowest can only issue a trade qualification, which doesn’t carry any legal weight. Many excellent schools can only offer an industry qualification. However, not all states look kindly on such schools, so do your research before you commit.
#3. Student Satisfaction
The most important element of a school is how well they prepare their students for the wine trade. We pull data from linkedin, sommslist, facebook, twitter, google and yelp to come up with a “student satisfaction” number for the school. The more students who are gainfully employed in the wine trade, the higher the grade. The happier the students are with their school experience, the higher the grade.