Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits
3401 Liberty Ave Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA
Founded in 1992, Palate Partners was first a wine accessories store that evolved into a private wine store. This was one of the only privately owned wine shops in Pennsylvania, a liquor control state. They used an innovative method which included having an import license and a 2-day wait for all wine purchases, which allowed them to circumvent state regulations. Then, as the state’s liquor laws liberalized, they moved into wine education.
In 2015, they opened up a wine school for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) certification. Mike Gonze and Deb Mortillaro founded the company. Mike is the president of Dreadnought Imports, a wine import company. Deb was a private chef in Pittsburg before starting Palate Partners. The wine school was initially run by Adam Knoerzer, who went on to open his wine school, ‘Burghundy.
Their website states that they “seek to enlighten, excite, and educate palates through wine and spirits. Whether consumer or professional, neophyte, or connoisseur, their team of highly experienced educators have the knowledge, experience, and passion for unveiling the wonderful world of wine & spirits.” The statement seems to describe their wine school accurately.
In 2015, the school moved from its longstanding location in Pittsburgh’s Strip District to the Lawrenceville neighborhood. They moved from a popular hub to a property in a transitional community to own the building. They continue to run their wine shop in the same building. This is particularly notable since many European wine schools are built similarly. Notably, the wine school in St. Emilion is located above a wine shop. However, this is a unique combination in the USA, making economic sense.
In 2020, the school released a GoFundMe page entitled “Save Our School.” Deb acknowledged the school was profitable pre-pandemic but relied on income generated from their wine import company. While the goal was set at $20,000, they did not reach that goal as of this writing (January 7th, 2022). Despite that setback, the school survived and started offering in-person classes again.
Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits is in many ways an ideal wine school. It also seems Pittsburg has embraced the school since its founding, including the media.
Name: Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits
Description: A WSET Affiliate Wine School located in Pittsburgh, PA
Price range: $45 - $700
Payment accepted: Credit Card
Currencies accepted: USD
Address: 3401 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Telephone: (412) 391-8502
- Sommelier Certification
- Wine Trade Certification
- Quality of Instruction