Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy

Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy

1 E Broad St Richmond Virginia USA

About

Virginia wine & spirits academy

About Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy

The Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy (VAWSA) provides informative and fun wine and spirits education, in-class and online, for trade professionals and enthusiasts throughout Virginia and neighboring states. They offer a suite of qualifications covering wines and spirits. Like all WSET courses, they are designed for those who are just starting their careers and established professionals and the many enthusiasts who have a passion for wines and spirits.

Tracy Waldron

Tracy Waldron is a co-founder of the Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy. She is a former sommelier, winemaker, and wine importer. Having spent more than a decade in Napa Valley, she moved back to her hometown in 2016. Her goal is to push for industry diversity through education and direct mentorship of students and play a role in establishing a demand for qualified beverage industry leaders.

Tracy previously worked as the marketing director for Vineyard 29 in Napa Valley. She also co-owned the wine label Analogue Wine Co and wine import company PellOneda. Both are not defunct.

Chris Parker

The second founder is Chris Parker. Before VAWSA, Chris established New Horizon Wines, an international wine business consultancy that focused on Virginia wine. He has worked as an executive in pharma, oil & gas, utility, telecom, financial services, and federal, state, and local businesses. He sold his stake in the wine school in 2020.

While they do have a mailing address on Broad Street in Richmond, their classes were held at Market Street Wine in Charlottesville up until 2020.

Credentials

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE serves as the approval authority for vocational-technical and proprietary institutions which do not offer degrees. According to the VDOE, they have appointed the Virginia Council on Private Education (VCPE) to oversee secondary school accreditation.

The Virginia Council on Private Education (VCPE)This link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website has oversight of private nursery, preschool, elementary and secondary school accreditation.

VCPE Website

A search of the VCPE database reveals that Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy is not a recognized school in Virginia. That in itself is not uncommon. Many wine schools rely on the accreditation of their national franchise to sort out legalities. This school’s diplomas are only as valid as the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). While WSET is a significant wine certification program, it is organized as a trade accreditation body, which is why it cannot offer certification or accreditations (WSET uses the term “qualifications” to get around this legality).

Location of this Wine School

The best and most reliable wine schools have a physical location. For instance, the top-ranked Napa Valley Wine Academy has its classrooms and offices. Unfortunately, this wine school does not seem to have any site now. The address available is a gift store, and (as of 2022) the link on their website to their location was missing. Many second-tier wine schools rent out space at a restaurant or hotel, which is not uncommon.

Reviews

There are not many reviews of this school. We found five positive reviews on Facebook from 2018/2019, but there does not seem to be a Yelp page. Here at Somm, most wine schools get at least 20 reviews yearly from our readers: this school has gained only seven student reviews since 2019.

Final Verdict

The school is run well, and the owners have trade experience. However, the lack of a physical location and the lack of state credentials puts this wine school in the second tier of programs. The reliance on WSET certification and materials without independent credentials makes for a precarious situation. We recommend this school to those seeking WSET certification, and we are eager to see them diversify their offerings and find a permanent location.

Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy
Virginia wine & spirits academy

Name: Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy

Description: The WSET Affiliate Wine School in Richmond, Virginia.

Price range: $300 - $1500

Payment accepted: Credit Card

Currencies accepted: USD

Address: 1 E Broad St, Richmond, VA 23219

Telephone: (646) 400-3840

3.8
  • Accreditation
    (4)
  • Sommelier Certification
    (3.5)
  • Wine Trade Certification
    (4)
  • Quality of Instruction
    (3.5)
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User Review
3.33 (6 votes)
Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy