Charlie Leary, PhD, has provided his top picks in wine education in his new book Leary’s Global Wineology: A Guide to Wine Education, Mentorships, and Scholarships (Hibiscus Panama SA). The book provides a reference to dozens of wine studies and mentorships programs as well as scholarships in 19 different countries. Consisting of nine chapters, the book is the only comprehensive guide to wine studies options worldwide, which include numerous online options. The number of scholarships for wine studies has increased in recent years.
Leary was interviewed about the book for The Wine Conversation podcast late last year.
The categories Leary chose for this inaugural edition include: The Best Wine Education Buys of 2023; The Three Most Vibrant Scholarship Programs; The Top Three Most Recognized and Valuable Wine Trade Qualifications; The Top Three Most Recognized and Valuable Sommelier Qualifications; The Top Three Schools or Programs for a General Wine Education from the Beginning; and The Top Three Innovative Interdisciplinary Wine Studies Offerings at Any Level. Leary also notes certain notable developments in wineology.
Here are the selected programs:
The Best Wine Education Buys of 2023
o George Brown College Wine Specialist Program: with many online options, qualified instructors, and each course costing about CAD $180–300. Nine courses are required to graduate.
o Certified Wine Specialist, Society of Wine Educators (with member discount): an affordable, recognized wine qualification supported by free online classes for members.
o Argentina Wine Specialist, Napa Valley Wine Academy: an affordable wine certification through online classes and exams focused on a wine producing nation of increasing quality and importance.
The Three Most Vibrant Scholarship Programs
o Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation
o Roots College Fund
The Top Three Most Recognized & Valuable Wine Trade Qualifications
o Master of Wine from the Institute of Masters of Wine
o Diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust
o Certified Wine Educator from Society of Wine Educators
The Top Three Most Recognized & Valuable Sommelier Qualifications
o Master Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)
o Diploma from the Association de la sommellerie internationale (ASI)
o Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu, London or Paris
The Top Three Schools or Programs for a General Wine Education from the Beginning
o WSET Levels 1-3: Although the WSET curriculum could use reform and instruction quality varies among its 800+ approved program providers, it provides a ladder for rapidly progressing from no general wine knowledge to an advanced level.
o San Francisco Wine School: Starting with its Intro to Wine Series, the School offers numerous options for both aspiring professionals and enthusiasts to advance their wine knowledge, including proprietary courses; prep for SWE, WSET, and CMS qualifications; online options; various proprietary certifications; and intensives.
o Napa Valley Wine Academy: With its proprietary Wine 101 Foundations and Wine 201 Wines of the World courses, the NVWA seeks to “demystify” wine for beginners and then offers all WSET levels in addition to specialized courses in a variety of important wine regions. There are 35 course options.
The Top Three Innovative Interdisciplinary Wine Studies Offerings at Any Level
o Hochschule Geisenheim University: provides a diverse curriculum, expertise across all aspects of the wine world, important collaborative options, and inter-disciplinary learning programs leading to both undergraduate and advanced degrees.
o Linfield University: a small university close to Oregon wine country offering an interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizing theory and practice, including BA or BS degree options, plus advanced study programs in wine business, including a 5-year undergraduate/master’s program in conjunction with one of France’s top wine universities.
o HEC: Paris-based, advanced international business program touching on all aspects of the wine trade spectrum alongside world-class instruction.
Notable Recent Developments in Wineology
o The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas’ reforms and changes, including an online course as well as alterations to the exam structure for their qualifications and the regulations governing courses and exams, including an aim of increasing “inclusion of underrepresented communities”
o The University of Strasbourg’s new program on geo-sensorial tasting leading to a university diploma combined with Wine Scholar Guild’s WSG Tasting Lab™, which also uses geo-sensorial principles
o Washington State University’s new wine tasting room certificate
o Brock University’s new Foundations of Winemaking course, with both in-person and online options
o Cordon Bleu London’s new online certificate course in wine tasting
Some of Leary’s picks may be expected by those knowledgeable about the world of wine, but others may surprise readers. The books includes numerous little-known programs, such as the University of Strasbourg’s new diploma program on geo-sensorial wine tasting.
The books is available as a paperback on Amazon and as an eBook through Kobo, Amazon, Apple Books, and Google Books.
Charlie Leary has worked as a sommelier and wine director since 1995. He earned a doctorate in history at Cornell University and taught briefly at Tulane before entering the hospitality business. He holds numerous wine qualifications. In 2004, Random House published his cookbook on Creole cuisine.
Leary's Global Wineology will be available as an eBook on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, and Google Play over the next few days. It provides a directory of wine education programs, degrees, and qualifications worldwide. It consists of nine chapter plus and introduction as well as interviews with recent WSET and Fresno State student Ryan Storm and the founder of San Francisco Wine School, David Glancy, MS, CWE.
Chapter One traces the history of wine studies as a wine trade motivated endeavor, comparing this with accredited, but more focused university programs. The final chapter discusses suggested reform of wine studies curricula addressing issues of the environment, power, access, and equity.
The following is from the Introduction:
Wine consumption, availability, and variety has surged worldwide in the 21st century, accompanied by a vast increase in the number of schools, organizations, colleges, individuals, and universities offering wine courses, both presential and online, with the latter both synchronous (live via Zoom, online education platforms, or other means) and asynchronous (self-paced, with no live instructor). Those who want to increase their understanding and appreciation of wine for personal edification or social know-how, and those who are pursuing or desire to pursue a professional career in the wine industry now confront a plethora of programs with a confusing array of titles, degrees, certificates, and specializations.
Some wine education is free and short, while other programs can cost dearly in time and money. Some courses of study take a few hours and others a few years. Institutions offering wine education vary from state colleges and universities to non-profit organizations and many profit-seeking companies. Sommeliers require training that may be mostly useless to vintners. Someone who wants to deftly handle ordering wine in a restaurant probably doesn’t want to learn about wine chemistry or Integrated Pest Management. Which program is right for you? What’s the difference between an MS and an MW or an MS in viticulture? Is the education for a CWE the same as that for a WSET Diploma? Are some schools better for learning about wine journalism than the wine business? This book will help answer such questions.
This Guide’s Scope
This is the first annual edition of what I hope will be many of this Guide. It is certainly incomplete; however, I address a lacuna in wine studies as previously, to the best of my knowledge, no such guide existed. I encourage readers to contact me with suggested additions not only in terms of the listings of study, scholarship, and mentorship programs, but also regarding missing elements or facts about curriculums, certifications, and program highlights or inadequacies.
I have relied on my personal knowledge of the wine industry and extensive research.
. . .
I have included chapters on issues in wine studies that I view as important, however I refrain from inserting much criticism (or hyperbole) into the program descriptions themselves in Chapters Two through Eight. I am personally familiar with some of the programs and schools described here, but not all. This book should serve, first, as a guide to the diversity of wine studies programs available to prospective students while, second, also casting a critical eye on the field. It will also be of use to employers who require background on candidates’ wine studies and those with an amateur interest in furthering their wine knowledge. I hope to produce a much-enhanced edition for 2024.
What is “Wine Studies”?
“Wine studies,” here, refers primarily to programs of study aimed at enhancing a student’s knowledge of wine, the alcoholic beverage made from fermenting grape juice (must) of the plant Vitis vinifera or its hybrids. A friend suggested I call it “wineology” and use this in the title. Wiktionary defines wineology as “the study of wine”; that fits. Wine knowledge encompasses the wine trade, education, wine business management, and communication, which overlap with the fields of viticulture, enology, economics, botany, biology, business studies, chemistry, history, literature, marketing, sales, ecology, journalism, and environmental studies, among others. Statista reports global wine market revenue equals $340.8 billion USD in 2022. It is a massive, global, and hugely influential industry.
There are excellent winemakers who are not wine studies experts and vice versa. There are Masters of Wine who couldn’t manage a vineyard, and there are superb viticulturalists who might not pass the Level 2 exam in wine from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, at least not without studying. A “wine expert” is someone who knows the “world of wine” in detail, including, prominently, the final product in terms of taste, color, aroma, age, vinification and viticultural methods, grape varieties, legal requirements, geography, appellations, distribution, logistics, packaging, price, and climate, including vintage characteristics. This includes sommeliers, wine buyers, coopers, journalists, teachers, book authors, salespeople, tasting room managers, and marketing specialists.
This is a rare world in that often “wine studies” is not a field of study offered by formal, accredited degree-granting institutions. The only institution I found that intentionally uses the phrase “wine studies” for its programs is Linfield University in my home state of Oregon, referring to the necessity for an “interdisciplinary approach” that involves exploring “the cultural, social and economic significance of wine.” From an academic perspective, the 2016 book Contemporary Wine Studies defines wine studies as “looking at the place of wine in society as a whole.”
It is a multi-faceted endeavor.
Traditional enology and viticulture programs form part of the formal academy, yes, but the point is that someone with a university degree in these fields may or may not be a wine expert, particularly at the same level as, for instance, the MW qualification granted by the Institute of Masters of Wine or MS granted by the Court of Master Sommeliers, which have no official accreditations as educational institutions. That said, such certifications have become very important to job seekers.
This book covers the gamut of wine world educational programs and qualifications, from viticulture degrees to sommelier certifications and Wine MBAs. The goal is to be inclusive--covering education related to wine, winemaking, wine trade and commerce, and grape growing—and independent, with no programs paying to be included (or not included). I cannot claim this guide is comprehensive in terms of mentioning nearly all wine studies programs worldwide, although that is the eventual goal. Again, I urge readers to contact me so that any classes or programs not included will be in future editions.
Charlie Leary earned his PhD in history at Cornell University. He has served as a wine director for restaurants in New Orleans, southern France, Canada, Costa Rica and Panama since 1995. He is a certified Spanish Wine Specialist, Cava Educator and Expert and has studied wine through Washington State University, the Wine Scholar Guild, California Wine Institute, and the Rioja Academy. Charlie is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers.