If you are in the mood for some old fashioned good news, we have some for you. We are announcing the first-ever online sommelier certification program, This is a project that many believed to be impossible.
The Pandemic Strikes
Back in early March, we held an emergency meeting. We knew it was going to be a brutal year to run a wine school. A highly contagious virus that –in a best-case scenario– takes away your ability to smell and taste was still a worst-case scenario for a wine school.
If the world was going to go bonkers, then the status quo in wine education would have to be overturned. We needed a way to teach our students from the safety of their own homes.
We began developing what would become the world’s first online sommelier training program.
The first step was to develop a new basic wine program, which became the Level One Online Wine Course. It didn’t take long to become a critical success. The next step was to replicate our flagship Core Wine Course.
Developing an online sommelier course was not going to be easy. The hallmark of an authentic sommelier program is wine tasting, sensory training, and a blind tasting exam. Other schools had attempted to accomplish this feat but no one had cracked the code.
We weren’t going to accept a watered-down version of our programs. Students had to have the same experience and learn as much as our in-class students do. The logistics of development were overwhelming: audio editing, cinematography, UX design, video editing, and developing an online delivery platform.
The process was daunting but we overcame every obstacle, except one.
The problem of how to remotely conduct blind tasting exams persisted and a major deadline was looming. We had sommelier students scheduled to attend the Core Wine Course! Half the students were online and the rest attending in-person.
If we didn’t come up with a solution, the semester was going to be a fiasco.
WSoP Learns About IP
We only had days to the deadline. A few of us went hiking in the Wissahickon to cope with the anxiety. After a few hours, we came upon a walled garden in the woods.
I still don’t know why, but that garden inspired an elegant and novel solution; we sat down right there and started brainstorming. We developed the idea into a proprietary process that was quickly distributed to our online sommelier students.
Because of that innovation, the semester was a huge success! Our online students were learning and enjoying the wine classes as much as our in-person students were. They even did as well on their blind tasting exams. We had cracked the code!
The Price of Accomplishment
Throughout this process, the Wine School’s leadership has gone without paychecks. It was part of the agreement we made back in March 2020. To change an industry, short-term sacrifices had to be made.
In a span of a few hours, we turned our venerable wine school into an online start-up. And as troubling news reports continue to be released, it was none too soon.
Coming to Online Wine School
This year of COVID-19 has been brutal, but developing these online wine programs have been our ray of hope. Come share the joy with us!
If you or someone you know wants to take our online sommelier course, you can register here. Online programming is delivered via the National Wine School‘s platform, and classes are streamed live from our Rittenhouse classroom.