Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy Claimed


3.0/51 Reviews

Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy Overview

The Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy (VAWSA) excels in offering interactive and informative courses in wine and spirits, primarily serving industry professionals and enthusiasts in Virginia and surrounding areas. Their curriculum encompasses a wide array of qualifications in wines and spirits, tailored to meet the needs of individuals at different career stages, from novices to seasoned professionals. As of 2023, VAWSA has shifted all its classes to an online format, accommodating a broader audience.

About Tracy Waldron

Tracy Waldron, a co-founder of The Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy, boasts a multifaceted career in the wine industry, having worked as a sommelier, winemaker, and wine importer. After over a decade in Napa Valley, she returned to her hometown in 2016, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and experience. Waldron is committed to fostering diversity in the industry through education and personal mentorship, focusing on developing the next generation of skilled beverage industry leaders. Her resume includes roles such as marketing director for Vineyard 29 in Napa Valley and co-ownership of the now-defunct Analogue Wine Co and PellOneda wine import company.

Chris Parker’s Profile

Chris Parker, also a co-founder of VAWSA, has a diverse background, having established New Horizon Wines, a Virginia wine consultancy. His career spans across various industries, including pharmaceuticals, oil & gas, and telecommunications. Parker sold his stake in VAWSA in 2020, having significantly contributed to its establishment.

Credentials and Accreditation

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) authorizes the accreditation of vocational-technical and proprietary institutions through the Virginia Council on Private Education (VCPE). VAWSA, not listed in the VCPE database, operates under the accreditation framework of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), a prominent wine certification program that functions as a trade accreditation body. WSET provides “qualifications” rather than certifications or accreditations, navigating specific legal stipulations.

Wine Courses Offered

VAWSA offers several WSET courses, including:

  • WSET Level 1 Award in Wines: A beginner-level course priced at $395. It covers basic wine knowledge, tasting, grape varieties, and food pairing.
  • WSET Level 2 Award in Wines: Priced at $795, this course is for beginners to intermediates, focusing on grape varieties, wine regions, and wine styles.
  • WSET Level 1 Award in Spirits: A beginner-level course costing $350. It covers the basics of spirit production, types, and tasting.
  • WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits: At $595, this course is for beginner to intermediate levels, exploring various spirits and liqueurs.
  • Certificate in Scotch Whisky: This course, offered in partnership with the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, is priced at $175 and covers Scotch whisky history, production, and business aspects.

Course Structure

The courses are primarily online, with a combination of self-paced study and live webinars. They include interactive elements, tasting exercises, and exams. Participants receive a certificate and lapel pin upon successful completion.

Location and Facilities

VAWSA, unlike top-tier wine schools with dedicated facilities, does not have a permanent physical location as of 2022. Their listed address is associated with a gift store, and there are no detailed location specifics on their website. Many secondary wine schools operate in rented spaces, such as restaurants or hotels, which is common in the industry.

Reviews and Reputation

Online reviews of VAWSA are sparse, with only a handful of positive Facebook reviews from 2018 and 2019 and no presence on Yelp. This limited online footprint is in contrast to other wine schools that often garner significant yearly reviews. VAWSA has collected just seven student reviews since 2019.


VAWSA, under the guidance of experienced professionals, offers valuable WSET certifications. The lack of a dedicated physical location and state-specific credentials categorizes it among second-tier educational institutions. The academy’s reliance on WSET materials without independent accreditation raises some concerns. Nonetheless, VAWSA is a viable option for those seeking WSET certification. The academy’s future expansion and establishment of a permanent location are anticipated with interest.

1 Review for Virginia Wine & Spirits Academy

MJ 38 Reviews

Not aweful, not great. Skip it.

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