Founded in 2003 by Michael Bryan, the Atlanta Wine School was the first wine-centric school in the Southeast for consumers and the wine trade, providing a continuous learning experience with renowned international speakers. Since its inception, AWS has connected with tens of thousands around wine pleasure. As a result, AWS was an excellent resource for wine education, entertainment, and evangelism for consumers and trade.
The school offered certifications from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust certification and the Wine Scholar Guild, as well as consumer-friendly wine classes.
In 2012, the school expanded into a Dunwoody wine bar. However, the school remains, along with a wine bar and retail emporium that offers shopping, tasting, dining, education, and entertainment under one roof. The senior instructor was Kelly Wheller. Kelly was the founder of “Con Vinum,” a wholesale wine distributor specializing in fine family estate wines worldwide. Con Vinum is now part of Eagle Rock Distributing, where Kelly serves as Portfolio Manager.
Vino Venue founder Michael Bryan was a friend and colleague. Unfortunately, he passed away after battling cancer in July 2017. A Certified Sommelier and longtime member of the Society of Wine Educators, Michael was an eloquent speaker, superb instructor, and mentor to many. His inspiration and enthusiasm helped thousands of people to evolve as oenophiles. He founded the Atlanta Wine School in 2003 and brought Vino into being in 2012. This venture embodied Michael’s talent, knowledge, and passion for the wine and culinary world as an Atlanta destination for dining, wine tasting, and private events.
Now located in a strip mall in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody, the school has changed focus since being founded by Michael. The space has been reimagined as an event space and restaurant, with a crab cake and schnitzel menu. Its wine program is based on Enomatic Wine Dispenser with 32 bottles.
Kelly Wheller continues to run the wine education programs here. They offer one-off wine classes and sommelier certification programs. They are a Wine & Spirit Education Trust affiliate and offer Level 1 to Level 3. programming. They also offer Wine Scholar Guild programming.
Like many WSET schools, they are currently running mostly online classes.
After the pandemic, their focus on wine-tasting classes has fallen off. While they still promote courses, there are currently none on the calendar. However, they do still offer WSET programming.
The Non-Public Postsecondary Education Commission (NPEC) has approval and licensing authority for consumer protection by regulating the operations of private degree-granting institutions, postsecondary vocation-technical programs, and proprietary schools. NPEC also provides authorization for certificate-granting proprietary schools. In addition, it licenses and approves approximately 150 schools on an annual basis.
They maintain a database of all schools licensed in Georgia, which is currently over 350. However, neither Vino Venue nor the Atlanta Wine School is listed. This is all too common for WSET schools to lean heavily on WSET accreditation, which we feel is too weak: such accreditation is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny from a state agency.
It’s clear the author is fond of the AWS founder, but the current programs are awful.
The currentl classes are OK, but I can’t leave anything less than a five star review in memory of Michael.