Learn About Wine School is an independent school for wine education with its proprietary sommelier certification program. Ian Blackburn founded them in 1995 as WineLA is a well-respected wine school in Los Angeles.
Wine is always at the core of great gatherings. It enhances the fashion, the music, the food and more. It’s not enough to just like wine; you need to know about its subtle nuances and how to pair it with its surroundings properly so that it can really shine. What better place to learn than Los Angeles, a giant playground with an amazing array of venues, spaces, wine bars, restaurants, beaches, rooftops, gardens and magical views. Attend a wineLA event and explore the diversity of California wine, from delicate Pinot Noir to bold Zinfandel and everything in between.
Ian Blackburn is one of the top wine instructors in the United States. His depth of knowledge and experience is the driving force that put WineLA on the map. He is one of two wine school founders that has worked as both a sommelier and a professional winemaker (Keith Wallace at the Wine School of Philadelphia is the other one). Before opening WineLA, he made a name for himself as a winery representative for Kendwood Vineyard and Kobrand. He also was the wine manager for Young’s Market Company, a major west coast wine distributor.
In 2009, Ian started Beekeeper Cellars, which produces single-vineyard Zinfandels. Along with his winemaking partner Clay Mauritson (of Mauritson Wines), he has earned dozens of accolades for his wines, which often are priced in the high double and triple digits. At this time, Beekeeper wines are not distributed outside California and are highly allocated.
WineLA offers a single credential: Learn About Wine School, better known as L.A.W. School. This is a four-week program. While it does not neatly fit into standard sommelier school classifications, it is roughly a Level One/Level Two certification. In each class, students will taste around two dozen wines. The program uses the textbook “Exploring Wine” from the Culinary Institute of America. The final exam is a blind tasting and a written exam.
LearnAboutWine.com was initially registered in 1998, and by 2000, Ian Blackburn’s wine school was online. By 2016, LearnAboutWine.com was redirected to WineLA.com, and the school was rebranded as “WineLA.” Then at some point in 2019, LearnAboutWine.com emerged from the grave, promising free wine classes coming soon. In early 2021, WineLA was redirected to a new site with new branding.
Confusing? Yes, indeed. It took a bit of sleuthing to uncover exactly what was happening. First, we noticed a significant change: the old “L.A.W. School” moniker is nowhere to be found. We liked the tongue-in-cheek aspect, but perhaps a few lawyers had a problem with it.
In the pandemic, we saw wine schools hustle to create new markets. Learn About Wine went in another direction, showing Ian’s brilliance and strong personal connections to the power brokers within Los Angeles and beyond. Ideal55, a wine storage facility, now sponsors his classes. Ian also unveiled a new series of wine classes entitled “Stars of Wine,” sponsored by Los Angeles Magazine, Ziply, and Unite the United Foundation. The site also offers wine sales in combination with their wine classes and an entire Coravin store.
The Learn About Wine School offers a blend of in-person, online, and trade classes. In addition, they offer a selection of Ian Blackburn’s top wine picks via L.A.’s Merchant of Wine, where Ian has been the wine buyer since 2020. Interestingly, Ian is also the wine representative for the wine brokerage firm Kimberly Jones Selections.
Star power and charisma: what you expect from a sommelier school in Los Angeles!