While it is not the first wine school in Sonoma (that honor goes to Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute), it is the first one open to the public. Founded in March of 2022, one of the only wine schools to open after the pandemic.
The school was opened by Julie Rothberg, the co-owner of the wine label 13th & Third, and the classroom is located in its tasting room. The brand is named after the corner of 13th Street & Third Avenue in New York, where she first met her husband, Gregg. Although located in Northern California, their wines are sourced from Paso Robles in Central California.
Odyssey Wine Academy is a Wine & Spirits Education Trust franchise offering in-person programs from Level One to Three. They also offer a Petaluma Gap Accreditation Program, which they describe as “Certification Classes for Wine & Hospitality Professionals.” This program is being offered in conjunction with the nearby Petaluma Gap American Viticultural Area (AVA).
The Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education has approval and licensing
authority for California’s unaccredited and nondegree-granting postsecondary programs. The only exemption from licensing is if the school offers solely avocational or recreational educational programs.
Like most WSET franchises, they do not comply with this law, especially since their marketing material clearly states that the programs are designed for wine professionals. While this is not an issue unless the state government starts an investigation, we hope they change the language on their site to mitigate any potential issues.
Wish it was what it promised but it was not.
What else is there to say?