The Wine Center offers wine education to the wine professional and the enthusiast. Their programs emphasize the industry certification from The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). The Wine Center is owned by Lorri Hambuchen, DWS. She also teaches about wine at the Arkansas Culinary School and is the weekly wine columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The center is a WSET Franchise in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before the pandemic, the center was expanding its reach to setup WSET approved satellites in other significant markets, including Tulsa, Oklahoma; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and Jackson, Mississippi. However, those plans have been put on hold: It is currently only an online WSET franchise.
Many WSET franchises seem to be zombie wine schools: offering only online wine courses without in-person programming. We hope this growing issue is resolved soon, or WSET classes in the US may cease to exist in any meaningful way. We are often critical of how WSET structures wine education programs, but that does not mean we want them to disappear completely.
This wine school is a project of the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ms. Hambuchen is an instructor at the school, as is Ken Lipsmeyer, who is the lead instructor in the school’s Hospitality and Wine Studies program. The school does not offer accreditation for the WSET programs, but the relationship between the university and WSET is excellent for their students.
In Arkansas, the State Board of Private Career Education has approval and licensing authority for vocational and technical programs that do not grant degrees or offer college-level courses. However, the school is not registered with the state. This could pose an issue if the Department of Education investigated the school.