“Give me your wine professionals and the yearning for Italian wine on your teeming shore”
New York City, the buzzing hub for global business, is going to set the scene for the next Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) Ambassador Course from June 26th to 30th, 2019. With the support of the ICE – Italian Trade Agency, VIA will stage the Italian Wine Ambassador course at the 3 West Club in the city that never sleeps, training a new cohort of experienced wine professionals about Italian wine. Applications are currently being received through the Vinitaly International website. VIA is Vinitaly International’s flagship educational program that teaches about Italian wine to beverage sector professionals all around the world.
Vinitaly International Academy is the provider of highly-specialized education and training about Italian wine to industry professionals worldwide, systematically conducting advanced courses that cater to those who have made wine their career. These professionals operate in various areas of the beverage sector around the globe (sales, imports, marketing, wine-making and enology, education, and the restaurant and hospitality businesses, among others) and carry enormous potential to spread awareness and educate consumers in their home markets about Italian wines.
The US is still the largest Italian wine importer in the world and Italian wine specialists are constantly in demand. Italian wine often enjoys notoriety because it is associated with the Made in Italy brand and the Italian lifestyle. Among wine professionals, it is at times perceived as complex, due to the number of indigenous grape varieties (over 590 officially recognized), the highest number of PDO and PGI wines in the world, and a great variety of terroirs. Vinitaly International Academy programs help wine professionals unpack, understand, and appreciate Italy’s outstanding biodiversity and ancient viticultural traditions. Courses offer in-depth and systematic training through lectures, intense tasting sessions, group work, and a final exam.
The forthcoming New York’s edition of the Italian Wine Ambassador course is the 14th edition overall as well as the first time in which VIA will present its reformatted version of the program to New York audiences. The course’s location, the 3 West Club on 51st street, is right in the heart of the Big Apple, just a stone’s throw from Central Park, Manhattan and the Upper West side. The course, organized with the support of ICE – Italian Trade Agency, is scheduled to run over a five-day period, with the fifth day being allocated for the final exam. The week comprises restructured lectures about the 20 regions in Italy and their iconic denominations, warm-up sessions on key topics (e.g. the importance of the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo grape in Italy) and tasting sessions which have doubled-up in the new format. Paul Caputo, UK Wine writer, merchant, sommelier, and VIA Ambassador certified in the latest Verona edition, comments on the lectures: “I think the most valuable aspect of the VIA Italian Wine Ambassador certification course is the deep dive into the different appellations with informative and detailed look into the soils, altitudes, and micro climates of Italy.”
The tasting part of the VIA training is another component that has been strongly enhanced and systematized. After the theory classes, VIA Faculty members lead tastings of Italian wines discussed during the lectures. The guided tasting sessions are then followed by Walk-Around Tastings, a buffet-style smorgasbord of Italian wines offered by the VIA Supporters. The variety of wine labels is one of the new course features that encourages students to independently work on their tasting skills while also increasing their exposure to more Italian wine brands. Since the implementation of the new tasting-intensive format, candidates have been tasting between 120 and 150 Italian wine labels per course held abroad. May Matta-Aliah, New York-based Italian Wine Ambassador and educator who took the course in Verona last March, comments on this increased training in tasting: “The best part of the course was tasting all the different kinds of wine and learning more in 4 days that I’ve learned in 4 years, thanks also to amazing wine educators. I look forward to being able to take this knowledge back to New York City to share it with my students.” Finally, another new aspect to the course is the video group project that encourages peer bonding among candidates and enhances their communication skills.
In the trend-setting New York wine scene which is alert to the organic, biodynamic, and natural wine market niches, VIA will also offer Ambassador students in New York a new module on Italian biodynamic wine led by biodynamic wine writer Monty Waldin. Waldin is the author of several award-winning monographs such as The Organic Wine Guide (Thorsons, 1998); Biodynamic Wines (Octopus Publishing Group, 2003); Biodynamic Wines (Infinite Ideas, 2016). He is also a contributor to Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine and U.K. wine magazine Decanter. Based in Tuscany, Italy, where he also works as a consultant for wineries, Waldin has a deep knowledge of the Italian wine world and also hosts a weekly podcast show entirely dedicated to Italian wine producers (the Italian Wine Podcast).
For those interested in learning more about the VIA Italian Wine Ambassador course, additional details and the application form can be found on the Vinitaly International Academy website. Applications are due within two weeks. Queries can be addressed also by emailing [email protected].
The grand Vinitaly 2019 will be held from April 7th to the 10th. Every year, Vinitaly counts more than 4,000 exhibitors on a 100,000+ square meter area and 130,000 visitors from over 140 different countries with more than 30,000 top international buyers. The premier event to Vinitaly, OperaWine “Finest Italian Wines: 100 Great Producers,” which will be held on the 6th of April, one day prior to Vinitaly will unite international wine professionals in the heart of Verona, offering them the unique opportunity to discover and taste the wines of the 100 Best Italian Producers, as selected by Wine Spectator. Since 1998 Vinitaly International travels to several countries such as Russia, China, USA and Hong Kong thanks to its strategic arm abroad, Vinitaly International. In February 2014 Vinitaly International launched an educational project, the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) with the aim of divulging and broadcasting the excellence and diversity of Italian wine around the globe. VIA this year launched the fourteenth edition of its Certification Course and today counts 190 Italian Wine Ambassadors and 14 Italian Wine Experts.