National Wine School

National Wine School

2093 Philadelphia Pike Claymont DE USA


The National Wine School is a professional certification agency that develops testing protocols for the wine trade, including sommeliers.

National Wine School (NWS) was founded in 2007. Originally based in Philadelphia, it operated under the name the American Wine Foundation until 2010, when the agency relocated to Los Angeles. NWS was founded as a not-for-profit credentialing agency for the wine trade. Its primary goal is to develop certification protocols and standards are transparent and comply with state and federal laws. 

While that sounds dry, it should be. NWS was developed to deal with the structural deficits inherent in the British-owned certification agencies, the Court of Master Sommeliers, and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  There are significant liabilities with offering professional certification in the United States, and the founders of NWS felt US standards were not fully addressed by the British firms. 

  • ACAP Accreditation
  • ANSI Compliance
  • Sherman Act Compliance
  • ADA Compliance

Again, this is boring stuff, but it goes a long way to make everyone’s sommelier certifications future-proof.  The agencies main goal is to bring transparency and legitimacy to sommelier certification.  There are eight very specific requirements for professional certification in the United States.

  • Delivers an assessment based on knowledge of the wine industry
  • Independent from training courses and course providers
  • Grants a time-limited sommelier credential
  • Annual Recertification Exams
  • Anyone who meets the assessment standards is certified
  • Standards and criteria for sommelier certifications are applied reasonably
  • Guarantees of procedural due process
  • Published policies and guidelines for sommelier certification.

Is NWS a good choice for you? It depends on what you are looking for. WSET and CMS are sexier brands with plenty of cachets.  They’ve earned their spot as media darlings with big-ticket PR firms.  Banking on the popularity of sommeliers is just good business, and we don’t fault them for being shrewd. If you are all about the bling,  the National Wine School may not be for you. 

If you want a rock-solid professional wine trade certification, then the NWS is a very good option. While NWS is exceptional in how it issues sommelier certificates, it is still small. We deducted points for its limited scope (only about 6% of sommeliers nationally are certified via the NWS). We expect that will change over time.

NWS Sommelier Certificate
NWS Sommelier Certificate
SOMM Score
National Wine School

Name: National Wine School

Description: The National Wine School is the only certification body that offers nationally compliant accreditation for sommeliers. It is less well known than WSET or CMS in the restaurant trade. However, it has greater acceptance at the college and university level.

  • Accreditation
  • Sommelier Certification
  • Wine Trade Certification
  • Quality of Instruction
User Review
4.57 (7 votes)
National Wine School