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Hello all,

I am usually a browser and I don't usually post, but in this case, I am in need of some advice and I know there are people on here who are either Somm's and/or have some formal wine education.

I am someone who is NOT in the wine industry--I am currently in education--but, as part of my "dream" and my "5 year plan" so to speak, I want to start making preparations to eventually get myself a job working in the wine industry out west, if not in CA, then OR or WA. I have a fairly good command of wine knowledge and I am constantly expanding that knowledge through my own research and purchases for my own cellar, etc. I used to be in the restaurant biz--front house--but that was years ago. My goal is to preferably work for a winery in the hospitality division--tasting room, wine education, etc., but something full-time, not just a part-time pourer on the weekends. I also want to make this clear--I am not necessarily looking to go back into the restaurant biz as a Somm or to work as a traveling salesman for a distributor. I want to work for a winery or a buyer or maybe an upscale retailer as a wine educator. I do currently have a very stable career, so I can pick and choose and wait for the right opportunity for as long as it takes.

So, I figure one thing I can do in the interim is to get myself some credentials over the next few years in order to make myself more marketable. As such, I have been looking into getting wine certification, but there are TONS of programs out there and they all seem to give some sort of "certification" with different titles, etc. How does one pick through the flotsam and jetsam to make a consumer-conscious decision? I can go to the CIA at Greystone and get a CWP. Then, there's the International Wine Guild in Denver. Of course, there is the Court of Master Somm's, but I have ruled that out as I don't necessarily need the service piece. There is the Society of Wine educators that would give me a CSW and then a CWE, but this is not a "program" exactly, as I'm sure you know, but rather a test you take for the degree. And, or course, there is the WSET certification programs where I could do Advanced Cert and then work on the Diploma. And, don't forget the myriad of "Wine Schools" I could go to as in Philly or Chicago.

What do you think? What would be best for MY particular goals and best position me for a job working for a winery or in hospitality out in CA??

Any feedback from people in the know would really be appreciated.

Original Post
I think you have it backwards.

You want to be an educator and you're asking how to learn about wine so you can teach others about it? I once had a friend who told me his goal was to be a law professor. When I asked why, he said it just seemed like a good lifestyle and he'd be able to talk about interesting things. No law degree mind you, but that's what he had in his head.

I think if you want to work in the hospitality industry, you already know a bit about that and it's a good place to start. Nobody is going to hire you just because you got some certification somewhere. I promise you, 15 years of learning and being in the business trumps a piece of paper. And the people in the tasting rooms don't know all that much about wine as a general rule. Some do, some don't. Some make the wine, some help out on weekends. Many know their own regions and perhaps a bit about how things are done locally, but if you're in WA, I'm not sure what good it's going to do you to have a certification that indicates you know Nebbiolo comes from northern Italy and Aglianico from farther south. Knowing about the local wine and land is more useful IMO.

Nor is anyone going to give you any job as a buyer if you don't have any experience. We all can buy wine we like but think about it. If you walk into a store/restaurant and say you have a certification and you want to be a buyer, what kind of answer do you think you'll get? They'll offer you the same job they would have offered you w/out the certification - maybe piling boxes, stocking shelves, etc.

Thus, that's where you should start. If you want to be in the business, learn it. None of the jobs pay well at any level. So work weekends or part time while you still have another job and move around until you're where you want to be.

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