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Commonwealth Wine School: A Leader in Wine Education

Boston is considered one of the nation’s centers for higher learning and is home to many renowned universities. The city is also home to Commonwealth Wine School a leading institution for both avocational and professional wine, spirits, and sake education.

Located in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Commonwealth Wine School offers a range of courses from beginner to advanced levels. For industry professionals, Commonwealth Wine School offers certification level programs from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), the Wine Scholar Guild, and the Society of Wine Educators.

We recently caught up with Kim Simone, Manager of Commonwealth Wine School, and asked her about what you should look for when selecting a wine studies program. Kim has worked in education for many years and has numerous wine certifications including Level 3 WSET and Certified Wine Educator. She served as corporate sommelier for the Legal Food Restaurant Group for many years and is founder of Vinitas Wineworks, a wine consulting company that collaborates with retailers and wineries.

Kim Simone, Manager, Commonwealth Wine School
Kim Simone, Manager, Commonwealth Wine School

TCT: Kim, many people may be considering a wine program to advance their education. What questions should they be asking when looking at schools?

KS: It depends on their priorities and what they want to do with their education. We see people from many backgrounds and with many reasons for enrolling. Some students work in the industry and want professional certifications to advance their careers. Others are enthusiastic wine consumers who want to become familiar about a certain wine region or style. Or they are traveling overseas and want to learn about the wines beforehand. We offer a broad range of studies for both groups.

TCT:  We see more people using initials like WSET, CWE and CSW after their names. Tell us about the certification programs offered.

KS: Commonwealth Wine School offers the full course of wine studies and certification levels for WSET as well as for spirits and sake. That is something that sets us apart. We also offer certification programs for the Wine Scholar Guild and the Society of Wine Educators.

Commonwealth Wine School offers all levels of WSET certification for wine, spirits and sake

TCT: Tell us about your instructors.

KS: We work with many fantastic teachers in the Boston who are respected for their knowledge. Many are published authors or who have worked in the restaurant and hospitality management industry – just to mention a few: Erika Frey, Adam Centamore, Jo-Ann Ross , Ashley Broshious.

TCT: How large are your classes?

KS: Our classes on average range from 12-to 20 people. Especially for the professional studies programs, we want to keep classes small to encourage communication. Of course, we also host winemaker dinners and tastings that are larger, and we also offer virtual classes. So anyone can join us from outside Boston throughout online platform.

Trade classes at Commonwealth Wine School are kept small to encourage more interaction with students.

TCT: Have you noticed any changes in what students are enrolling in?

KS: We are seeing more students enrolling from our restaurant partners. We see them sent by their beverage group or manager. Many enroll to advance their education and improve their standing in the industry, or they may work retail and want to improve their knowledge to better serve their customers.

TCT: Anything else you want to share with us?

KS: Yes, it is important to note that Commonwealth Wine School is about building community, whether you are joining us for avocational or professional reasons. We offer a diverse range of workshops, wine camps and tasting events that are affordable for those individuals who enjoy learning with like-minded people, and we aim to be the leading center for higher wine education in the greater Boston/New England area for industry professionals.

Check out the current class schedule at this link:  www.commonwealthwineschool.com/calendar

Follow on Instagram@commonwealthwineschool

Listen to our SIPS podcast with Kim Simone here

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Access Meets Awesome- Sipping with Wine Access

When you choose a nice bottle of wine to drink, what are you looking for besides balance and structure? How about Authenticity and a touch of Awesome? And if you are selecting a wine to sell, would you stake your reputation on it? That’s the thought process behind the team at Wine Access (www.wineaccess.com) whose management team say they take the guesswork out of selecting wine.

Wine Access offers a selection of curated wines from around the world from both established producers and new discoveries, as well as a selection of sakes. Wine Access  also features a selection of proprietary wines created in partnership with top winemakers and sold exclusively through their online platform.

Launched 20 years ago initially as a web hosting platform for brick and mortar stores and wine publications, Wine Access has grown to become one of the leading direct to consumer wine companies in the United States. Wine selections are offered both online and through a daily email offers.

The Connected Table sat down with Joe Fisch, Wine Access CEO/CFO, and Vanessa Conlin, Head of Wine, to discuss how Wine Access works and what sets it apart. Fisch and Conlin were quick to address their #1 priority- offering their customers access, expertise and ease when it comes to buying wine.

Recording The Connected Table SIPS! podcast with Joe Fisch and Vanessa Conlin, Wine Access, at Colangelo & Partners offices in Manhattan. Wine Access has offices in Napa and San Francisco.

“Wine Access is all about going the extra mile. For example, we won’t just post a short description and photo of a wine bottle; we’ll share the brand’s story in a 500 to 1000 word write up. We also produce informational content through video and articles that help inform our customers about different wine regions, styles of wine, buying and cellaring and other features,” said Fisch. “We also leverage our relationships in the industry to offer our members a selection of proprietary wines that we make in collaboration with some California’s top winemakers such as French native and in-demand wine consultant Julien Fayard.

Idiosyncrasy is one of Wine Access’s proprietary wines produced in collaboration with some of California top winemakers. This Cabernet Sauvignon (2016 vintage) is from Atlas Peak in Napa. Its winemaker is Julien Fayard, who is recognized for making 99-point Cabernet Sauvignon wines for Purlieu and Le Pich

The Wine Access tasting team consists of a Master Sommelier, two Master of Wine candidates and other seasoned industry wine professionals. Conlin noted that the wine team at Wine Access regularly travels to scout out wineries and meets weekly to taste and evaluate wines. “Of the thousands of bottles, the team tastes, only around one percent are accepted. We have to all agree unanimously on a wine before adding it as a selection. We each ask ourselves: ‘Would you stake your reputation on this wine?’” said Conlin.

The Wine Access tasting team: Eduoardo Dingler, Neil Mechanic, Vanessa Conlin, Robert Emery, Sur Lucero MS

But it is not only creative content and high caliber wine offerings that matter. The Wine Access team believes it’s important to engage its customers beyond online communications through experiential events.  Examples include private Château Margaux and Château Lafite Rothschild tastings for 25 VIP customers. That’s the “awesome” part, they say.

“Who wouldn’t want to experience those tastings,” said Conlin, “we are always looking for new ways to share experiences and stories about wine producers and places with our members. It’s about offering both access and authenticity to the world’s finest wines.”

www.wineaccess.com

We’ll drink to that!

Listen to our podcast with Joe Fisch and Vanessa Conlin here on The Connected Table SIPS. Click image below or click here

 

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