In the heart of California’s most famous wine region is the Napa Valley Wine Academy (NVWA), a well-rounded private education center for wine professionals. It offers courses from various universally recognized wine education institutions like the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET ) and the Society of Wine Educators.
The school’s slogan is “Napa Valley Wine Academy is America’s Premier Wine School.” They are a great school, but that slogan is not precisely true: they are one of America’s top five wine schools.
The coursework here is both interactive and practical. NVWA utilizes in-class lectures and instructor-led field trips into vineyards and cooperates with one-on-one winemaker talks to prepare their students. This is geared to develop the candidate’s wine knowledge and tasting skills. In addition, they have other locations around the country, including one at the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, Florida.
Like many wine schools, they offer a scatter-shot approach to wine certifications. They provide at least four different sommelier programs, plus a few programs they developed internally. As a result, their wine certification courses are a bit of a hodge-podge, but they are a well-funded school in the heart of America’s wine country.
Training as a sommelier is more complex than merely tasting a few wines and learning the basics. The NVWA understands that all too well, with vast team experience to reflect that. Their accomplished lecturers deliver well-instructed sessions. In addition, candidates will have Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, seasoned Oenologists, and lecturers engaging them through courses such as the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and French Wine Scholar Study Certification program.
Are you a beginner? Do not let all that intimidate you; these courses are easy to master in their competent hands. Here’s a brief look at what each specialized course covers. For the Court of Masters and Wines and Spirits Education Trust, kindly click on the links to learn more.
Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)
The CSW is a class of convenience. Students can receive their lectures in class or online. We recommend it for novices or intermediary learners eager for a sound understanding of wine, which will be critical in career progression and networking.
Advancing a step further, the academy offers the following regional courses on the Old and New Worlds of wine. Each specialized program is designed for students serious about intricates of wine at more than just face value.
French Wine Scholar Study and Certification Program
With the French Ministry of Agriculture‘s support, this course was developed and administrated by Wine Scholar Guild (formerly known as the French Wine Society). It is current and delves deep into the French wine industry, one of the World’s oldest and most prestigious.
Learn about the critical regions, styles, culinary and traditional influences that make up French winemaking. Students of wine who follow this in-depth curriculum and pass the assessment will earn the French Wine Scholar (FWS) post-nominal.
The American Wine Study Certification Programs
Coming armed with a rudimentary understanding of wine, its fundamentals, and terminology will be convenient in this course which focuses solely on American wine. Recommended for professionals (or enthusiasts) working within the region, it delves deep into the American landscape, styles, areas, and official regulations. The information provided is accurate and always up-to-date with this ever-changing region.
IWC Level 2 Italian Wine Professional Online Course
Italian wine is widely viewed as America’s most significant wine import. Selling Italian wines indeed becomes a whole lot easier. The course covers over 80 grape varieties. Italy is well known for having unique grapes rarely found outside this region.
Napa Valley Wine Academy offers several other online wine classes. Please see our list of top virtual wine classes in America.
Up until several years ago, it was possible to run a wine school without a state license. However, that is no longer the case. The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education has approval and licensing authority for both degree-granting and nondegree-granting postsecondary programs, schools, colleges, and universities within the state that are unaccredited, including for-profit/proprietary vocational-technical schools.
The Bureau keeps an up-to-date database of all recognized schools, but Napa Valley Wine Academy is not yet listed. Currently, the only school in California authorized to run wine programs is the Culinary Institute of America.
What is the highest wine certification?
How much does the WSET cost?
What is the pass rate for WSET Level 2?
Is WSET a sommelier?
What is Napa Valley Wine Academy’s phone number?
What is their official website?
I was fortunate enough to attend NVWA’s Harvest Bootcamp last year as part of the Level 3 certification course and I can’t say enough good things about it. Where do I start? First, the instructors were top-notch. We learned from Masters of Wine, WSET Diploma holders with industry experience and master winemakers in both video lectures and in person. But it didn’t stop there. We also took several field trips and learned from growers, winery operations directors, a virtual winemaker who gave us hands on experience at a crush pad, all topped off with a winemaker’s dinner (definitely the highlight of the whole experience). The in-person lectures and tastings were world-class but never stuffy or dry. Brought in lunches were an opportunity to socialize with classmates, and included a “guess today’s wine” challenge that facilitated camaraderie and additional learning (that oaked white had to be a Chardonnay!). They also made sure we had snacks and coffee to keep our energy up later in the day. Level 3 covers a lot of ground – viticulture, varietals and winemaking in all the major wine producing regions of the world, as well as the major wine styles (sparkling, still & fortified). The instructors really (really) cared that we were actually learning and assimilating the material by discussing similarities and differences between wine regions and varietals and by helping us identify signature aromas and flavors, always making sure we were all calibrating and identifying the same things. Second, where NVWA really excelled (for me at least) was with exam preparation. Video lectures to be completed before Bootcamp included maps, and there were short quizzes and longer multiple-choice exams to test knowledge along the way – a very valuable tool when reviewing for the exam. They also provided mock exams with sample scoring rubrics which I found to be the single most valuable resource. Instructors emphasized from the beginning that the Level 3 theory and blind tasting exams under timed conditions would be very, very challenging and that meant practicing under timed conditions was critical to getting up to staying in exam mode. They even had electronic flash cards. I passed Level 3 with distinction, and I owe it to NVWA’S conscientious approach to instruction prior to and during the Harvest Bootcamp experience. Finally, I made some friends that I keep in touch with almost a year later! I’m mid-way through Level 4 Diploma now and the knowledge base I brought with me from NVWA’s Level 3 has proven to be invaluable.
I could not have passed it without the class. The staff was very knowledgeable and accommodating. The fact that it was a harvest bootcamp made it even better. All of the “field trips” were great and the winemaker dinner was the best. Ilearned more than I ever imagined. Although there were long days you made it fun and rewarding. Thank you so much for all of your efforts and passion for what you do. It translates into a wonderful experience and success for all.
Thank you soooo much for the wonderful job you and the team did teaching and preparing me for the WSET Level 3 exam! Everything about the program was great! For someone not entrenched in the wine industry professionally, I especially appreciated the field trips with the hands-on experience that helped to make “real” everything I was learning in the classroom and the book. The class size was just large enough that there was dynamic interaction between the group, but not so many as to make it overwhelming or impersonal. Lunches with “guess the wine” was fun and the food was delicious! I am looking forward to my journey into Diploma with NVWA!!
SOMM calls this one of the top wine schools in America. The Napa Wine Academy itself says it’s the best wine school. But is it? I found it’s marketing very slick, but I don’t think it’s the best possible education. ICC (now closed) and NWS are far better. I’d expect deeper programming and less reliance on off-the-shelf programming –No one needs another generic WSET class.– from a top tier wine school.
There should be more than reading from a text book. Where’s the passion?