What do these people have in common?

Four of the city’s restaurant critics
Three of the city’s restaurateurs
One of the city’s brewers
Three of the region’s winemakers
Ten of the city’s sommeliers

They all attended certification programs at the Wine School of Philadelphia. We trained them to be the next generation of brilliant wine patrons. If they end up being the best wine professionals, that is not our fault.

It’s your turn to become the quintessential wine patron.

The Foundation Program
Thursdays, April 8th to May 27th
from 7:30 to 10pm

Global Intermediate
Sold Out

Advanced Program
Wednesdays, April 21st to June 16th from 7:30 to 10pm

Registration for the spring semester ends soon.


The death of Fess Parker has gained a great deal of press this week. Most obits linger mainly on his early years as the star of the TV series Davy Crockett.

For me, and many others, he was respected and beloved first and foremost as a Rhone Ranger; he was an all-american vintner who bucked the trends, and planted Viognier instead of Chardonnay. For an older generation, he played a great pioneer on tv. For us wine geeks, he became a true-blue pioneer, and he will be missed.


The PLCB/State Police beer raids on several bars in Philly have become a national joke. The Associated Press story quoted yours truly (in my role as the founder of the Philly Beer School) and that has caused a bit of a stir in certain circles.

I bluntly put the cause of the raids on dirty politics: a bar owner with political clout used the state agency as a weapon against a competitor.

This is not an uncommon practice. The Wine School had a similar experience several years ago: a competitor of ours reportedly pulled some strings to force the Department of Education into an investigation of us.

We didn’t have a dozen armed policemen knocking down our door, but it was a quick and hard lesson in political hardball.

We prevailed, of course, but we are hoping the coming regime change in Harrisburg will bring about some much needed reform.


On the West Coast, the continuing economic problems are taking its toll on wineries. At least 10 Napa Valley wineries are going belly up this year, and a recent poll shows that about 7% of all Napa wineries are on the verge of collapse. Sounds like a good time to buy a winery. Domaine Wallace, anyone?

Collin’s Top Picks for the Month.

Collin Flatt is the newest instructor for the Beer & Wine Schools. You can read all about the youngest member of the crew here: Phoodie Editor Joins The Team.

  • Avery Maharaja
    Style: Imperial IPA
  • Troegs Nugget Nectar
    Style: Imperial Amber
  • Flying Fish Exit 16
    Style: Wild Rice Double IPA
  • Stoudt Brewing Carnival Kolsch
    Style: Kolsch

The Top Wine Buys for March/April

Pillar Box 2007 Red, Australia. Compared to Yellow Tail, this is the height of sophistication. Of course, that’s like saying Jessica Simpson is classier than Pam Anderson. This wine is pure silly fun, but its the best of it’s ilk by a mile. The Paris Hilton of cheapo shiraz? $6.99

Louis Latour 2007 “Duet” White, Languedoc. I do have a bit of a man crush on Mr. Latour, ever since he visited the Wine School (yeah, you missed that because you didn’t sign up for the cru club — it’s your own fault). This is by far not his finest wine, but then again, this is $9 instead of $90. What this is, though, is a remarkable value for a full bodied and oak-driven white wine (this is a vineyard blend of Chardonnay and Viognier). Latour wines are historically inexpensive in our dear state, but this is a bit silly. I am pretty sure the winery is losing money selling at this price point. $8.99

Hogue 2006 “Genesis” Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley. I have been impressed by this line for a few years now. It’s an excellent product when priced at $15, but in PA it usually costs more. Fortunately, this is in the Chairman’s Selection program once again. The best cabernet you can purchase for under $10.

Find these wines near you with our Wine Finder

Henry Fessy 2007 Regnie Cru Beaujolais. The PLCB claims the retail on this bottle is $20, but that is far-fetched. This typically will sell for about $16. At $10, it’s a steal. A good quality gamay is a wonderful wine for lighter springtime meals.

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2006 “Redemption” Zinfandel, Sonoma. A no-nonsense party wine. I would go so far as to say this was a gummi bear riding a licorice stick down a boozy river. $12.99

Martinborough Vineyards 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. Classy and varietally correct, this offers a hint of honey on an otherwise austere structure, with notes of white pepper and scallion adding complexity to the grapefruit and brine qualities of this bottle. $12.99

Find these wines near you with our Wine Finder

Studert Prum Riesling 2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabbinett Riesling, Mosel. A fire-etched riesling from one of the great Mosel vineyards. Lovely, but it could use a year or so more in the bottle to even out. $13.99

Cono Sur 2007 “20 Barrels” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley. The best value in Pinot Noir I have seen. This offers classic loam and floral notes in a very bright and friendly format. Dense and round, it still manages to remain light bodied and balanced. $14.99

Nita 2007 Priorat. I actually find the price of this wine both insulting and incredibly exciting. Sort of like when I met Chevy Chase. Someone at the PLCB must share my love of Priorat and stocked their warehouses to the brim. That’s the only reason I can fathom why they continue to offer up excellent priorats at prices that are not only below wholesale prices, but also in defiance of common sense. One could easily sell this wine for $20. A kick ass bottle of wine from one of the greatest wine growing regions in the world at that price is a no-brainer. At $15, it’s just silly.

Find these wines near you with our Wine Finder

Buehler 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. This hearkens back to the halcyon days of when my friend Jonathan Newman was the Chairman of the PLCB. I still remember all those great deals on top-shelf Napa Cabernet. This deal reminds me of those days, almost. This is a fantastic wine, although the cheap cork tells me this was possibly a special bottling for the PA stores. However, all complaints aside, this is a gorgeous bottle of classy Napa goodness. $17.99