Wine Education


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Wine Education

  1. 1. 3/08 MEININGER’S WBI N E W S A N A LY S I S THE KNOWLEDGE OF WINE As the global wine trade becomes ever more corporatised and competitive, having skilled employees with an intimate knowledge of not just wine, but the wine business, becomes ever more important. Sally Easton MW explains how. inemakers and viticulturalists the MW in the USA “were either very wine list’s profitability, and preparing W have their own specialist oenology and viticultural quali- fications. But what qualifications are clued-in trade people or serious con- sumers or collectors. Today,” she said, “recognition of the title has increased glassware for the table. The MS must also know about liqueurs and spirits. From its UK origins in 1969, the MS available for those who want a serious in both depth and breadth.” Now, 30% appeared in the US in the mid 1980s, career working with wine, but who of the membership and 70% of before both the MW and the WSET. don’t want to be winemakers? students come from outside the UK. Given the cultural desire for education A number of qualifications exist, A straw poll of the main UK super- with certification in the US, it is both inside and outside traditional markets and top companies show many no surprise that more than two-thirds academia. The Master of Wine (MW), of them use MWs, either as direct of the world’s 120 MSs are based Master Sommelier (MS), and Wine MBA employees or in a consulting role, jus- there, and that the other international represent the peak of these, while tifying its €5,000 cost. Waitrose has a educational bodies were slow to there are also the Wine & Spirit long-standing philosophy of employing compete effectively. Education Trust courses offered in MWs, currently six – three in the buy- Being both an MS and an MW, wine 42 countries, with various societies of ing team, and three consultants – and consultant and writer Doug Frost, wine educators around the world also the company has the most well-regard- who’s also the vice chair of the offering qualifications. ed wine range of all the supermarkets. American chapter of Court of Master Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, the compa- Sommeliers, is well qualified to com- Master of Wine (MW): Mt Everest ny’s manager of wine buying said: “as ment on the differences between these The Master of Wine (MW) is a a fast-growing business with a great qualifications. “There is not a great UK-based qualification that’s highly reputation for the quality of our wine deal of overlap between the two coveted within that market, though range, and as the complexity of what programs. The MS requires exhaustive it is gaining recognition internationally. we offer increases, we need talented knowledge of the rules and regulations Executive director of the Institute people to make sure that our team throughout the wine producing world, of Masters of Wine, Siobhan Turner stays ahead of the game.” as well as regions, grapes, producers said it “is a membership body that and styles,” he said. “The blind tasting Master Sommelier (MS) promotes a cross disciplinary approach component is rigorous but not as to understanding wine at the highest “MSs are ‘front of the house’ demanding as the MW. The largest level. It is the premier group of people people,” explained Brian Julyan, chief focus of the MS is service, about which fostering wine trade education with a executive of the Court of Master the MW is wholly silent. The MW focus global perspective and a complete Sommeliers. “Their job is working in upon grape and wine production, approach to the cycle of wine from restaurants, so when customers ask maturation and marketing is almost choosing the site for a vineyard questions, sommeliers need to answer. wholly absent from the MS program.” through to understanding consumption Everything we test is done orally, What does unify the MS and the of wine and all the social, political, eco- and has to do with doing the job. MW is that they both have a master- nomic and environmental factors We identify those who are masters of apprentice philosophy, where those around it.” their craft.” who have passed are expected to offer Since it inception in 1953, the MW The MS is examined orally, with a their services to help future candi- came under fire for being some quirky practical exam in front of a jury, dates achieve mastery. British exam, but since becoming an involving: serving a bottle of wine Wine MBA international qualification in 1983, it equally between a number of glasses; has grown into an organisation whose decanting; answering questions about Where the MW has one written 264 members are widely respected vintages, products and food, and paper (out of four) focused on the busi- around the world. Fifteen years ago, making wine recommendations; ness and marketing aspects of the when American Mary Ewing-Mulligan setting up wine dinners; training a global industry, the Wine MBA’s entire passed the MW, those who knew about team to sell house wine; managing the thrust is commerce and marketing. 16
  2. 2. 3/08 MEININGER’S WBI W I N E E D U C AT I O N Offered by the Bordeaux School of “The Institute promotes a cross-disciplinary approach Management in academic partnership with the University of South Australia to understanding wine, from choosing the site for since 2001, it’s an English language, a vineyard through to understanding consumption of 22 month program that costs €25,000. Based at three sites - Bordeaux, wine and all the social, political, economic and Adelaide and London - it is a fully environmental factors around it.” accredited MBA. To enrol, prospective students need a Bachelor qualification Siobhan Turner, director of the Institute of Masters of Wine plus five years of work experience in the wine industry. What makes it lower levels, including for spirits, clear driver for all the top qualifications. different from a generalist MBA is that which are open to both trade and Increased profile and reputation follow, the case studies and examples used consumer candidates. Since its 1970 even though some people remain con- throughout are from the wine industry, inception, 5,718 people have passed fused about what the MS and MW mean. with the curriculum including market- the diploma. “The fully-supported South African Cathy van Zyl MW, who ing, corporate finance, strategic man- nature of our courses is a particular gained her qualification in 2005, said “it agement, supply chain management strength,” said David Wrigley, the certainly didn't change my life financially, and other typical MBA subjects. Trust’s international development but I do far more wine judging and writ- Isabelle Dartigues, the school’s director. “We offer full tutor materials ing as a result of passing the MW. Most director, said: “We address only profes- so that there is no confusion when a of the change has been personal; I sionals, which not all MBAs do, who student gets in front of exam paper.” derived a great deal of satisfaction, are high position managers.” She As the WSET adapts to a global achievement and sense of self worth added “our pass rate is almost 100% industry and a widening pool of loca- from passing the MW.” because we have strict control during tions, it has commissioned a research When Lopez started doing the MBA, the year, so for example, when a stu- project in three key markets, the UK, he “was the managing director of dent hasn’t passed an exam or case Germany and the US, to identify ways Concha y Toro UK, with four people and study, we have a strict policy for the to improve the product and commer- a turnover of £6m. Seven years later we student to re-sit the test.” cial relevance of the qualifications. have a turnover of £70m and an office Cristían López, managing director of “There are different demands and with 30 people.” This is not down to the Cocha y Toro UK, achieved the Wine issues in different countries,” said MBA, he emphasised, but “the MBA MBA in 2006. He was clear which Ian Harris, chief executive of the helped me gain more experience; you qualification he wanted: “I’m passion- WSET. “The UK is a mature market. learn and get better at what you do. And ate about the wine business and it The USA is in growth, but has the with that comes reward, a little more needs more professional, more capable credit crunch. I have to convince money, a little more responsibility.” people,” he says. “Some years ago people that the training budget should Gérard Basset MS, MW, WineMBA, is maybe the old trade was seen as too not be cut when times are hard. We the only person to have achieved all social, and not organised so much can demonstrate that training puts three top qualifications. In mid-1980s by finance and marketing. But we need money on the bottom line – we did Britain, working in the hospitality to know about exchange rates and some research that showed £1,000 of sector, he reached the final of a somme- currency fluctuation, about supply- investment put £42,000 on the bottom lier competition and realised wine was demand economic issues and financial line in three months.” his way forward. Basset said: “The MS issues. Wine is a business, and it’s A US organisation, The Society of was the logical choice for someone want- difficult to make a margin.” Wine Educators (SWE), also offers ing to do sommeliery. But in the wine A 2006 survey of alumni suggested wine education and certification, trade in England you were nothing if you that 41% of graduates had progressed tapping into the American hunger for weren’t an MW. I enjoyed learning, vertically within their company, 47% credentials. Their president, Sharron about different things from the MS. Then had moved to larger international firms, McCarthy, said: “our mission is to pro- when I sold my business in 2004, I with an average pay increase of 50%. mote wine education throughout the remembered the Wine MBA. It was not world. We have over 2,000 members, a strategic plan to have all three, just an Where to begin (WSET) including a chapter in Japan”. evolution for someone who had no In order to achieve the heights of school qualifications. Now it’s a USP.” The bottom line any of the three top qualifications, A common thread is the opportunity education needs to start somewhere, The financial reward from gaining to network among current and future and the Wine and Spirit Education wine qualifications is hard to measure, industry leaders and opinion formers. Trust (WSET) offers programmes at especially as personal motivation is a And regardless of whether the qualifi- 17
  3. 3. 3/08 MEININGER’S WBI N E W S A N A LY S I S W I N E E D U C AT I O N cation is achieved, contact books “Master Sommeliers are ‘front of the house’ people. bulge. David Furer, who is a certified wine educator by the SWE, made four Everything we test has to do with doing the job. We attempts at the MS. But, he says, he identify those who are masters of their craft. Their job has “zero regrets. The process, even if you don’t get the MS, or the MW, is working in sommelierly, so when customers ask is important. It’s the discipline, the questions, sommeliers need to answer.” accumulation of knowledge and the business contacts for your career that Brian Julyan, chief executive of the Court of Master Sommeliers make the journey worthwhile.” achieve these qualifications are at a time, one job at a time, one task A diversity of careers ambitious, driven and successful, and at a time, and having an MW or MS Global insight and networking are thus attractive to employers, though after your name only offers you key to both the MW and WineMBA Frost is apposite: “I am constantly the opportunity to do more things. too. Dartigues said: “We travel to counselling candidates to expect It's up to you to make the most of various parts of the world, which nothing. Any success is built one brick those opportunities.” allows students to compare manage- ment practices. The aim is to build Europe’s new initiative a global picture, and to benchmark practices across the wine world.” To date, the world of wine education the world and successful in the UK,” While the MS is clearly devoted to has been dominated by the US Society explains Dr Schuller, by way of exam- the highest levels of wine service and of Wine Educators, or UK institutions ple, “but there are places where Aus- experience at the table, and the wine such as the Wine & Spirits Education tralia is not established in the market, MBA is focused at the purely business, Trust. Now there’s another player: the so there should be other countries fea- marketing and commercial roles, MWs European Academy of Wine Education tured more strongly in their syllabus.” are found in broad and diverse careers, (EAWE), which recently held its first The need to give wine makers access as journalists, educators, buyers, conference in Austria. to a broader wine education is also an sellers, commercial directors and The founding members are drawn issue. “All viticultural schools in the consultants. It’s difficult for someone from institutions and groups across world teach more or less viticulture, looking in to identify a clear ‘path’ that Europe: Germany’s but they don’t MWs follow, because they don’t. But, as the Institute of MW’s Turner said: “if you’re looking for someone who can talk with confidence and authority Geisenheim, the Culinary Institute of Norway’s vocational » training of somme- Europe now needs stronger prising,” says Dr teach about the The time has come that wines of the world, which is quite sur- with senior people in your business then liers; and the Wine cooperation and networks, in Schuller. “You look the best person you can hire is an MW. He or she can speak authoritative- ly to your vineyard manager and your chief winemaker and your head of Academy Austria, among others, from terms of wine education. 16 countries. “The time has « at people who are trained oenologists, who may end up Dr Josef Schuller MW working in the marketing and understand what your come that Europe — trade, and they are corporate social responsibility person and in that I include the UK — now coming to us looking for more infor- is saying to you.” needs stronger cooperation and net- mation about wines and spirits of Basset, who later this year takes on works, in terms of wine education,” the world.” the presidency of the Court of Master says Dr Josef (Pepi) Schuller MW, direc- And, of course, there is a benefit for Sommeliers, said the direction for tor of the Austrian Wine Academy. “You wine educators themselves, not least the MS is “to keep education in the now have institutions all over Europe, of which is having a forum where they restaurant trade up to date and rele- mushrooming in every country. We can exchange ideas and keep up with vant. We need to encourage more peo- think there is the need for the their subject. There are also plans ple to come into the restaurant trade, standardisation of certification of edu- afoot to organise a European Confer- despite the difficult, long hours.” cators.” One of the issues that arose ence for Wine Education on a regular While it would be convenient from the EAWE’s initial round table basis, with Dr Klaus Schaller, the for there to be a simple linear relation- discussion was the need to accommo- director of Geisenheim, offering the ship between peak qualification and date local requirements. “As a country, use of office space and support. commercial success, it would be naïve Australia is extremely successful in Felicity Carter to suggest such a thing. People who 18