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Although the history of Napa Valley dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, when some farmers settled there to cultivate the huge expanses of land, the fortune of this suggestive Californian corner began at the end of the seventies of the last century. It was exactly in 1976 when, during a blind tasting, organized by an English wine critic in Paris, to celebrate the two hundred years since the founding of the United States, some relevant experts of the time, awarded, as the best wine to the world, a Napa Valley label.
The echo of the tasting was important not only in the United States and in the world but, above all, in European countries with a historic wine tradition. From that moment, also thanks to a correct communication of the product and the area, investments and professionalism, in a few decades, the Napa Valley has become one of the most famous wine areas in the world.
Napa Valley is also home to the first US wine school: Napa Valley Wine Academy. The wine Academy offers a wide range of training courses for professionals in the sector and for enthusiasts, too.
Let’s find out more from the words of Christian Oggenfuss, CEO of Napa Valley Wine School.
When was Napa Valley Academy born and what training does it offer future wine professionals?
Napa Valley Wine Academy was founded in 2011 and offers a wide selection of wine courses for both industry professionals and enthusiasts. We are the largest provider of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in the world, we are also the only school to win the coveted WSET Global Wine Educator of the Year Award twice. We offer Levels 1-4 both in-person and online. In addition, we offer the world’s first certification that focuses 100% on the wines and wine regions of the United States, The American Wine Expert online program. As well as courses on the Rhone Valley, Argentina, Napa Valley, Oregon, Wine 101, and Wine 201, Discovering Italian Wine, and sommelier courses.
What kind of courses does the school offer to enthusiasts and future sommeliers?
For the enthusiast, we have our Wine 101 Foundations and our Wine 201 Wines of the World courses both 100% online. For the sommelier, we offer the WSET curriculum but also our SommDay School courses developed in collaboration with Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser.
Which courses are among the most popular?
Our WSET courses as well as the American Wine Expert, Wine 101, and Wine 201 are our most popular courses. These are all offered online so we see students from all over the world engaging with these courses.
You also offer online courses. Are they available for international users too or just for those living in the USA?
Our online courses are available to international as well as USA-based students. As I mentioned before we have students from all over the world and every continent that log on to our courses. Since the courses can all be completed 100% online we can cover the world.
Do you also offer training collaborations with local wineries?
Yes, three times a year we run our Bootcamp programs that take the student out of the classroom and into the wineries and vineyards so that they can learn hands-on. Experience is the best teacher. During harvest, we offer two opportunities to participate in our Harvest Bootcamp which combines in-class learning as well as field trips to vineyards and wineries. Students participate in harvest and wine-making activities.
Do your students find work in Napa Valley wineries or in other States of the Nation?
We are proud of the fact that our students find employment in such a wide variety of roles in the wine industry. From winemaking, marketing, sales, import, retail, restaurants, to journalism. It is always so exciting to see our students making their career dreams a reality, that is what inspires us.