The Commonwealth Wine School (CWS) was founded in 2020 during the pandemic at the Garage in Harvard Square. Despite opening during the pandemic, CWS is a vibrant school, offering a significant and deep curriculum. Before opening, it built up a solid reputation with several pop-ups and online classes before opening up its brick-and-mortar classroom.
This wine school is part of the growing affiliate of wine schools that use Grape Experience to run their Wine & Spirit Education Trust programs, so in effect, they are an affiliate of an affiliate to WSET, a collaboration that seems bound to cause problems; either WSET will seek to curb this type of relationship, or Grape Experience will opt to take out the middleman. Either way, this relationship is an imperfect solution for both the student and the school.
We recently heard from the owners of CWS, who believe our description of their programs is incorrect. Their preferred description is below:
Commonwealth Wine School is the Approved Program Provider for all WSET curriculum in New England. They had been working with Grape Experience to provide WSET programming before they merged and took over the APP. Longtime educator and owner of Grape Experience, Adam Chase, remains at Commonwealth WineCharlene Peters, Marketing & Communications for CWS
School as the WSET Director. CWS also offers Wine Scholar Guild courses, the Certified Specialist of Wine, and their own diverse curriculum.
From their communications to us, it isn’t clear whether or not Adam Chase is an owner or employee of this wine school or if the relationship is more of a partnership. We also do not understand why they are calling themselves “the Approved Program Provider for all WSET curriculum in New England” when the Wine & Spirit Education Trust lists multiple APP in New England, including Johnson & Wales University, New England Wine Academy, Fine Vintage LLC, Bartenders Academy, and Vermont Wine School.
Jessica Sculley founded the school. A teacher for her entire career, Jessica started as a math professor at Roger Williams University. She moved into wine in 2017 when she earned her Level Four sommelier certification. She became a Wine Ambassador for City Wine Tours in Boston and taught wine for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.
In 2019, she opened up a pop-up wine school called Vintnicity, Inc. As late as December of that year, classes were held at 25 Brattle Street in Harvard Square, which was a bankrupt candy store. By early 2020, Jessica had found a permanent home for the school and re-christened the Commonwealth Wine School.
The school also wanted us to edit the first paragraph of this section, as well. Here are the changes they requested:
Jessica Sculley founded the school. A math and science teacher for many years. Jessica worked in public and independent schools from the elementary to college levels. She moved full-time into wine in 2017 when she earned her Level Four WSET Diploma. She became a Wine Ambassador for City Wine Tours in Boston, taught wine for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and ran wine tours to Burgundy.Charlene Peters, Marketing & Communications for CWS
The changes here are not as substantial, but we are leaving this here for the reader’s benefit.
Unknown to much of America, Boston has a vibrant and longstanding local rock tradition. For a decade, the band Guillermo Sexo has been taking over the guitar-driven/angelic vocals tradition of Boston rock that was once dominated by Breeder, Blake Babies, and Letters to Cleo. Lead singer and local rock star Noell Dorsey has a side gig. She is also a sommelier. She is (as of this writing) one of the school’s wine teachers and the wine cellar manager for Skinner Auction & Appraisers. That is a wine class I am looking forward to.
The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has licensing authority over the approval of charters and amendments for independent degree-granting institutions in the state, both proprietary and nonprofit.
Commonwealth Wine School is not on the board’s list of authorized schools, but they use terminology such as “professional certification programs” and “geared towards professionals.” as of this writing. This language may be in violation of state law: it just depends on the state board of higher education.
One of the reasons many WSET programs no longer use the term “certification” or “professional” is an attempt to bypass state law.
Love the location!
I may not be a “WSET” type person. At least that’s what I felt after a week.
This is a great addistion to Boston’s wine scene. While not a fan (Personally) of WSET, I do think this school deserves a lot of respect for how they are conducting classes.