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Italian Wine Professional Certification Program Aims to Support Wine Sales Through Education


Respected Wine Educators Rethink Education Model with Emphasis on Matching Wine Styles to Customer Needs

Italian Wine ProfessionalNew York, NY – May 7, 2015 – A professional training and certification program in Italian wine that was recently introduced in the United States is gaining momentum, giving producers, importers, distributors, and retailers a vital new tool to increase their understanding and, ultimately, sales of Italian wine. The program, the Italian Wine Professional™ (IWP), offers an alternative wine education approach where learners are engaged constantly with the material and the structure allows wine professionals to learn what they need to know to more effectively sell Italian wine.

“As popular as Italian wines are in the United States, Italy is still widely seen as one of the most challenging wine regions to understand for both consumers and professionals,” said IWP founder Geralyn Brostrom, CWE, who drew on years of experience as vice president of wine education for noted importer/distributor Winebow to create a program geared specifically to the needs of the wine trade. “Confidence building is key,” she emphasizes. “We designed this program to overcome the fear and confusion people feel toward Italian wine and help those who sell it feel more confident and comfortable with their wine knowledge.”

Brostrom’s background in training models combined with her expertise in wine education for the trade put her in a unique position in an industry that is complex and often heavy on facts and details. “With the right education model, we believe we can help broaden consumer access to the full breadth of Italian wine, ultimately breaking down the barriers to greater sales.”

The IWP program was developed with input from some of America’s leading wine schools and educators, including David Glancy, MS, CWE, IWP; Jay Youmans, MW, CWE, IWP; and James King, DWS, IWP.  To ensure an educationally sound curriculum, equal attention was paid to the wine content and to molding a program that effectively addresses how adults learn and retain knowledge. Launched at professional wine schools in Washington, DC, and San Francisco in 2014, the program expanded into Houston, Napa Valley, and White Plains, New York, in early 2015, with more locations coming online later in 2015.

The IWP program is an offshoot of Italian Wine Central, the leading English-language source of up-to-date, accurate, and easily navigable Italian wine information. The site is geared toward wine professionals in retail, restaurant, import, and distribution roles as well as wine writers, educators, and wine lovers seeking to expand their knowledge of Italian wine. “The IWP should be considered an essential credential for anyone that buys or sells Italian wine,” says Youmans, owner of the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC. 

“With close to 550 known grape varieties and over 400 DOCs and DOCGs, complex labeling laws, and nuanced sub-regions, you can’t throw everything at students and expect them to retain everything,” explains Glancy, owner of the San Francisco Wine School. “We knew we needed a more thoughtful approach to Italy than what was out there in the market—one that would truly allow wine professionals to become fluent in Italian wine in a way that can impact their careers.”

Chris Oggenfuss, co-owner of the Napa Valley Wine Academy, has this to say: “The IWP is one of the best-designed wine education programs available today. The course was clearly conceived by a team that understands the importance of pedagogy in designing a course that will elevate students’ understanding of a complicated subject.”

James Heffron, a graduate of the IWP program at the Capital Wine School, reports, “the course was laid out very well for a diverse group of people with a wide range of expertise, from individuals pursuing Master of Wine and Advanced Sommelier certifications to hobbyists and individuals just looking to know how to order wine at restaurants. The course satisfied the needs of all participants.”

Organized by wine style, the IWP program, which includes a rich online learning component, encompasses 24 hours of instruction in either a weekly format or a 4-day intensive format. Candidates who pass the final exam and complete a class presentation project are designated as Italian Wine Professionals. Topics covered include:

Italy’s major grape varieties and their main growing regions

Italy’s most important denominations that are widely available in the U.S., plus up-and-coming denominations and varieties

Pronunciation of wine regions and producer names
·         Strategies for presenting and selling Italian wines to restaurant and retail establishments
·         Ideas on Italian wine & food pairing
·         Italian wine labeling conventions and how they fit into EU law
·         Approaches for creating compelling wine lists that showcase Italian wine

All this comprehensive content is backed by the Italian Wine Central website, which contains detailed entries on all 407 DOC/Gs, 118 IGPs, and over 200 grape varieties. Users of the site also have access to up-to-date statistics on Italian wine, a newsletter, and articles and features. For more information on Italian Wine Central and the Italian Wine Professional course, or to arrange interviews with Geralyn Brostrom, contact Eric Katzman at 347-661-5284 or [email protected].

About Geralyn Brostrom, CWE

As co-founder and education director of the Italian Wine Central (IWC) website and Italian Wine Professional (IWP) credential, Geralyn has created a central network for wine professionals wanting to learn and teach about Italian wines. Prior to starting IWC, she was vice president of education for the importer/distributor Winebow. She presents to Italian organizations on the subject of entering and operating efficiently in the US import and distribution channels, and her clients have included Amarone Families and Piemonte Land of Perfection. In addition to her import/distribution experience, she has held positions in multiple wine industry channels. Geralyn was coeditor of the book The Business of Wine, which was nominated for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and served as contributing editor to the Amarone Report for the International Wine Review. She lectures on wine business topics in the Wine MBA program at Sonoma State University and teaches enology and viticulture students about the world of wine in the online Viticulture, Enology, Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) program. Geralyn holds dual U.S./Italian citizenship. Her professional wine credentials include the IWP, Certified Wine Educator (CWE) from SWE, and the Level III Award in Wines and Spirits, with distinction, from the WSET.

About Italian Wine Central

Italian Wine Central (IWC) is an independently run website that focuses on the world of Italian wine in all its many variations. Its aim is to serve as the most accurate, up-to-date, and approachable English-language reference resource about Italian wine. Education is Italian Wine Central’s mission, and IWC believes that well-educated wine professionals are the basis for healthy long-term wine sales. It does not favor specific brands or regions over any others, but rather its goal is to promote all Italian wine. While Italian Wine Central’s target demographic is wine professionals in the United States, it is freely available to anyone who wants to understand more about Italian wine.

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