North Bay Business Journal

Monday, June 10, 2013, 6:37 am

Accelerated wine program showing results at Greystone

Most pass certified master sommelier; further education outside of wine


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    ST. HELENA — After the graduation of its third cohort since the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone launched its Accelerated Wine and Beverage program three years ago, data has shown that the course has generated strong outcomes for graduates that include a high passing rate on Court of Master Sommelier exams, according to information from the college.

     Of the 25 students that graduated from the most recent cohort, 18 elected to pursue the level two sommelier designation. All 18 students passed the exam, exceeding the national average by 20 percent, according to the nonprofit Culinary Institute’s Napa spokeswoman, Tyffani Peters. Each of the 25 graduates also pursued and received the school’s advanced industry designation, the certified wine professional exam.

    Robert Bath

    On average, 80 percent of graduates from the program pass the certified sommelier exam, said Robert Bath, a master sommelier and an instructor in the program since its inception. Other graduates have had a high rate of success in finding employment in viticulture, sales and other areas of the wine industry in Napa and beyond.

    “These students are tasting hundreds of wines. In nine months, we can do something that would take years otherwise,” he said.

    The recent class was the largest in the graduate-level program’s three-year history, with a total of 58 graduates since its inception. The program’s first cohort, 14 students, graduated in 2011.

    While interest has grown, Mr. Bath said that the school is maintaining a 36-individual cap on the size of each cohort.

    “It has continued to grow each year,” he said.

    Education in the program has increasingly incorporated elements from beverage categories outside the realm of wine, with instruction in the nuances of different coffees, beers and other products representing a broadening level of sophistication for both consumers and producers, Mr. Bath said. Graduates have found employment guiding the procurement and usage of those products in fine and casual dining, as well as distribution and retail.

    “Even the master sommelier program has become much broader. I think it reflects the growing awareness about beverages in America,” he said.

    The next offering of the 30-week program will begin in September, with more information available at www.ciachef.edu/.

    Note: This story has been corrected to reflect the proper designations that program graduates pursued within the multi-level Court of Master Sommelier exams. A previous version of the article had incorrect information.

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