Grappolo Food & Wine School Claimed


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In 2023, Scott and Paula Thomas launched the Grappolo Food & Wine School, setting its foundation in Denver, Colorado. Unlike traditional institutions, this independent entity lacks a fixed location. Instead, it operates nomadically, conducting classes in various restaurants and hotels across Denver. This approach, diverging from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) franchising norm, introduces fresh air to the wine education landscape with its exclusive and innovative curriculum.

The school’s curriculum distinctly emphasizes Italian wines, a reflection of the founders’ backgrounds. Course offerings are diverse, ranging from specialized Piedmont classes highlighting indigenous varietals and travel insights to comprehensive retrospectives on Sangiovese and foundational wine workshops.

The Italian Wine Maestro Certification Course is a notable inclusion in their program, part of the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) curriculum. This initiative, an educational branch of the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, marks the beginning of a pathway that further includes the Italian Wine Ambassador (IWA) and Italian Wine Expert (IWE) certifications. Focused on native Italian grapes, labeling laws, history, and geography, the curriculum spans approximately 24 hours. However, it’s important to note that this program does not hold accreditation in the United States.

Additionally, Grappolo offers immersive wine tours to Italy, with destinations including Chianti and Piedmont, enhancing the educational experience through direct engagement with the wine-making regions.

The founders, Scott and Paula Thomas, bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the school. Paula’s background encompasses over ten years in culinary arts and academia, focusing on “Food Policy and Structural Racism.” Her involvement with the James Beard Foundation in a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) capacity, alongside her master’s degree in World Food Cultures and Mobility and contributions to environmental justice with Slow Food International, solidify her as a formidable figure in the field. Additionally, her teaching experience at the School of Hospitality, Metropolitan State University of Denver, further underscores her qualifications.

Scott Thomas’s journey through the wine industry is equally impressive, with stints in vineyard management in Chianti Classico, wine sales in the U.S., and educational roles at the School of Hospitality, Metropolitan State University of Denver. His tenure as the director of sales and education for a Piedmontese winery adds to his deep-seated knowledge of the wine trade, spanning over a decade. As the lead instructor, Scott oversees most of the school’s offerings, including the certification program and study abroad opportunities.

In summary, the Grappolo Food & Wine School stands out for its innovative approach to wine education, deeply rooted in its founders’ expertise and unique perspectives. While the school’s lack of a permanent facility and non-accredited status in the U.S. may be viewed critically, its commitment to providing a distinctive educational experience focused on Italian wines and the founders’ extensive backgrounds positions it as a noteworthy addition to the culinary and wine education landscape.