NAPA -- Thirty-five Master of Wine and Master Sommelier students met in Napa Valley on Sunday for a multi-day immersion program about the wine region.

The students, traveling from around the U.S. and seven other countries, came for Master Napa Valley, hosted by St. Helena-based trade association Napa Valley Vintners. They all have passed at least the second level of examination for their respective professional certification programs.

During Master Napa Valley, they interacted with nearly 100 association winery members, tasted and discussed more than 250 different Napa Valley wines, and participated in a dozen seminars and intimate vineyard and winery experiences designed to enhance their understanding of what makes Napa Valley unique in the world of wine.

NVV hosts the program in collaboration with the Institute of Masters of Wine and the Guild of Sommeliers, which recommend course attendees from their memberships.

"It is critical that top wine professionals have an in-depth understanding of premier wine regions like Napa Valley and there is no substitute for personally visiting the region," commented Geoff Kruth, MS, guild director of operations.

This is the eighth Master Napa Valley program, first hosted in 2002.

"The program brings tremendous education value to our Master of Wine students and their exploration of the great wines and wine regions of the world," said Penny Richards, institute executive director.

Several Bay Area Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers were panel moderators and mentors. The program concludes with a written exam, blind tasting challenge and farewell dinner on Wednesday.