James King founded the Texas Wine School (TWS). Originally from England, King launched the TWS in late 2010 after he and his wife moved to Houston from Los Angeles. Before that, James ran sommelier certification programs at The Wine House.
King’s most significant contribution was to bring Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) certification to Texas. He also introduced certifications from the Society of Wine Educators, the French Wine Society, the North American Sommelier Association, and the Sake School of America. TWS was one of the first schools to offer wine certifications from multiple vendors.
In 2014, James moved to Arkansas for his wife’s job and sold ownership of the school to Liz and Paul Palmer, who were his students at the time. King retains a small piece of the pie in return for coming back a couple of times a year to contribute on the educational side. He currently runs the King James Wine School in Arkansas.
Liz runs the operation and teaches at least one class a week. They currently have a roster of a dozen instructors. Of note, the school offers a “Specialist of Texas Wine” class with Dr. Russell Kane. Since 2019, Walden Pemantle has been the Director of Education; they previously worked at Vino Vero, a wine distributor located in Houston.
Paul is a large accounting firm partner and funded a significant school expansion. The TWS is now located at their wine storage facility, Art of Cellaring, which was developed in 2015. The building is a nondescript grey bunker of a building. The entrance is an iron gate in the alley that leads into a wooded courtyard and the main door. . The school is located at 2301 Portsmouth St, in Houston. They also offer wine courses in Austin at the Wanderlust Wine Company, located at 610 N. Interstate 35.
The Texas Workforce Commission is the licensing authority for proprietary institutions, including for-profit/proprietary vocational-technical schools. Like all other wine schools in Texas, this school is not an authorized school, as required by state law for professional schools. This is troublingly common for WSET franchisees, something we hope the Wine & Spirit Education Trust addresses. We feel WSET is not protecting its affiliated schools from potential legal scrutiny. In addition, this wine school became a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2019.
This wine school has recently seen quite a few local media mentions.
Pascolini holds certificates from the Istituto di Cultura del Vino and the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS), the largest sommelier association in the world. He’s also an instructor at the Texas Wine School in Houston, and serves as the Texas delegate of the North American Sommelier Association.Paper City Magazine, January 2018
Turning to his current role at the Art of Cellaring, the wine facility in Upper Kirby offers both its members and members of the general public ways to broaden their knowledge. The facility’s Wine School is the only place in the South where someone can earn a WSET diplomaCulture Map Houston, September 2021
Sip Like a Somm at The Wine School. Yes, there’s an exam at the end of WSET Level 1, the school’s beginner-level wine certification class, but owner Liz Palmer promises: “It’s for consumers as much as it is for industry people.”Houstonia, July 2019
They accept Google Pay and all major credit cards processed through FareHarbor.
This wine school is well-rated by SOMM, due to its high-quality programs and brick-and-mortar location. The school is also highly rated by both Yelp and Google.
The instructors are phenomenal, making the classes interactive and laced with personal stories. I took WSET1 just for fun, passed with flying colors. Since that was way too easy, I also completed WSET2 and WSET3 (hard!). I was thirsty for more so Italian Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar followed. There are Master Classes, Guest Speaker Series, Comparative Wines and many more. They also invite producers and distributors. I keep coming back for more.