Feb. 3, 2021



Educating students about wine is more about the “psychic paycheck” than the monetary one for Peter Marks MW, partner and Vice President of the Napa Valley Wine Academy (“NVWA”), the leading provider of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (“WSET”) courses global

Educating students about wine is more about the “psychic paycheck” than the monetary one for Peter Marks MW, partner and Vice President of the Napa Valley Wine Academy (“NVWA”), the leading provider of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (“WSET”) courses globally.  Peter tells us about the different levels of the WSET (from Level 1 to Diploma), the full costs of wine education, and the benefits.  He also discusses the innovations happening with online learning, including sending wine kits out with their courses and best practices for virtual seminars.   Listen in on this deep dive into wine education from one of the foremost leaders in the field. 

This episode is sponsored by Sonoma State University’s Wine Executive MBA program.  A 17-month, transformative program that builds leadership skills and business acumen focused on the specific needs of the world of wine.  Learn more about SSU’s Wine MBA programs here.  If this is something you’re considering, the next session’s enrollment deadline is Feb 28, 2021, for courses starting in April!!  

Detailed Show Notes: 

  • Peter’s background
  • Being in wine education is more about the “psychic paycheck” - getting feedback from your customers and students
  • Napa Valley Wine Academy
    • Founded in 2011, offering Wine & Spirit Education Trust (“WSET”) programs
    • Now the largest WSET provider in the world
    • An Approved Program Provider (“APP”) for WSET - it’s like a franchise, NVWA buys materials, study packs, and exams from WSET; grading is done by WSET in London
    • 65% of business in WSET, 35% other wine programs
    • Develop proprietary courses - e.g. - Wine 101, Wine 201, Napa Valley Wine Expert, Oregon Wine Expert, the Business of Wine (with Tim Hanni, MW)
  • WSET
    • 4 levels, 1 through 4 (4 is called the Diploma)
    • Levels 3 & 4 provide more understanding of the subjects
    • The diploma includes the business of wine and is a precursor for the Master of Wine program
    • Geared towards all aspects of the wine industry, very broad view vs other programs (e.g. - Court of Master Sommeliers focused on restaurants/service and Society of Wine Educators focused on education)
    • Wine industry (or “trade”) participation in courses
      • Level 1 - ~90% consumer, 10% trade
      • Level 2 - ~75% consumer, 25% trade
      • Level 3 - ~40% consumer, 60% trade
      • Level 4 - ~10% consumer, 90% trade
      • More consumers are coming into the program
    • The benefits of a wine education, the 3 C’s of the WSET
      • Credential - showing your accomplishment
      • Confidence - knowing the facts about wine, speaking with confidence
      • Culture - participating in the culture of wine...the pay may be low, but being a part of the friendship and social aspects of the wine industry
    • ~100,000 WSET students/year - now the “go-to” wine education organization - it covers the entire industry and is global
    • Recent changes to the program - giving students what they want
      • Launched a Sake program
      • Split spirits from Wine for the Diploma
      • Introducing Beer soon
  • Virtual classes
    • Has always been an option - was called “self-study” and had to go in person to take exams
    • Exams for L1 and L2 now offered online, L3 and Diploma cannot be because they include tastings
    • NVWA launched wine kits (wine samples re-bottled into small vials) for virtual classes - do virtual tastings with them, the wines are disguised to be blind
    • Had to learn how to better engage students online - using breakout rooms, polls/quizzes, reducing seminar times to 1-2 hours, best practice is to engage with students every 3-5 minutes
    • Do live webinars that are recorded
    • Students save money by not having to pay for travel to classes, academy saves a bit of cleaning of facilities
    • Pricing is the same as in-person, but not travel costs
  • The cost of wine education
    • Course fees, wine (for Diploma ~200-220 wines are recommended to know, wine can cost $500-2,000 for samples), travel
    • Wine kits are included in course costs
    • Can have mentoring for an additional fee
    • Scholarships
      • WSET offers some, but after having passed for the top scores
      • NVWA has several partners for scholarships
        • Wine Unify for L1-3
        • Wine Access
        • The Roots Fund
        • John Hart (former NBA star) - for the BIPOC community
      • The diversity of students is growing
  • The return on wine education
    • Constellation Brands paid bonuses for employees who passed WSET qualifications and also offered tuition reimbursement
Get access to library episodes

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.