WSET Wine & Spirit Education Trust

WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits

The flagship WSET Diploma will arm you with specialist-level skills and knowledge, plus recognition as an expert in the field of wines. The course not only develops advanced product knowledge but will also develop your skills in research and analysis, which will continue to be of use to you in the future.

The Diploma is universally viewed as a stepping-stone to the MW program.

The Diploma is comprised of six units of study, each designed to develop expertise in a particular area. The course includes tutored tastings of over 250 light, sparkling and fortified wines; all samples are carefully selected to build analytical tasting skills and supplement theoretical knowledge.

Upon successful completion of all Units, students will receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin and may use the post-nominal DipWSET.

WSET Level 4 Diploma Specifications

Wines You Will Taste

Number of MW Instructors

Number of Study Units

Enrollment for WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines

To enroll in the program, you must already have successfully completed and passed the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines (and Spirits). If you do not hold the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines (and Spirits) certification, you are required to contact us to discuss your eligibility. We also advise you to have a high degree of proficiency in written English. We want to give all our students the best possible chance of success.

To enroll in the first unit for new Diploma students (Unit 2/D1) please select your preferred course of study below:

WSET Level 4 Diploma Program Overview

The Level 4 Diploma in Wines is the flagship certification of the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust). The program will arm you with specialist-level skills and professional working knowledge of wines and spirits. By attaining the WSET Diploma, you will gain recognition within the wine industry as an expert with advanced product knowledge, proficiency in the evaluation of quality and style through the systematic tasting of wine and spirits, and highly developed skills in research and analysis – skills which are of significant use for higher-level trade professionals. The Diploma is considered to be a prerequisite for pursuing the Master of Wine (MW) through the Institute of Masters of Wine.

The Diploma is comprised of six units of study, each designed to develop expertise in a particular area. These six units have 6 separate courses that you will complete before taking the unit exam. These courses can be completed either online or in-person in Napa.

You will have a total of 6 exams. Please note that while you have the option to complete the Diploma through the online study program or through the in-person study program, all exams must be done in-person at our location in Napa, CA, regardless of your program type.

D1 Wine Production

(name changes from Unit 2 to D1 starting August 2019)

In Unit 2 (D1) you will undertake a detailed theoretical study of viticulture, vinification, maturation, treatments, and packaging of wine. This unit is the first unit you will complete, as it builds a foundational level of theory knowledge needed for the study of Units 3, 5, & 6. This unit is assessed by a 100-question multiple-choice exam.

D2 Wine Business

(name changes from Unit 1 to D2 starting August 2019)

In this unit, you will develop and hone your research skills to study the global drinks markets and the marketing of alcoholic beverages. Unit 1 (D2) is assessed a written essay exam done in-person called the Case Study.

D3 Wines of the World

(name changes from Unit 3 to D3 starting August 2019)

In this unit, you will acquire specialist product knowledge and commercial understanding for the major light wine (all wines except sparkling and fortified) producing regions of the world. Unit 3 is assessed by a 5-question paper with short-form and long-answer essay questions and a practical tasting paper of 12 wines.

D4 Sparkling Wines of the World

(name changes from Unit 5 to D4 starting August 2019)

In this unit, you will study the production methods and acquire in-depth product knowledge and commercial understanding for the major sparkling wines of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the New World. Unit 5 (D4) is assessed by a combined tasting and theory exam consisting of a tasting paper of three sparkling wines and one theory question.

D5 Fortified Wines of the World

(name changes from Unit 6 to D5 starting August 2019)

In Unit 6 (D5) you will study the production methods and acquire in-depth product knowledge and commercial understanding for the major fortified wines of Spain, Portugal, France, and the New World. This unit is assessed by a combined tasting and theory exam consisting of a tasting paper of three fortified wines and one theory question.

D6 Independent Research Assignment

In D6 you will research a specified wine-related subject, demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of the topic using relevant source material to develop ideas and arguments to reach informed conclusions. The research assignment is a 3,000 word paper. There are two topics released each year, with respective submission dates in January and July.

Please consult the Diploma Specification for more in-depth information on each unit.

Program Duration & Study Time

The WSET requires that you complete the D2 course and take the D2 exam before moving on to other units. There are specified times of the year that each unit can be offered. Students may take D2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in any order. The Napa Valley Wine Academy has laid out a course schedule that will allow you to complete the program in 2 years – the WSET’s recommended amount of time it takes to successfully study and pass all units. When you enroll with us, your Diploma Program Advisor will reach out to you to discuss creating a personalized schedule.

The Diploma program is a long journey that requires dedication and perseverance. The most successful students are those who devote a minimum of 15 hours of study time each week. The Diploma exams cannot be passed by cramming at the last minute – it is a marathon, not a sprint. By following a strict study schedule, with daily time allotted to reading, note-taking, tasting, and review, you will be well-prepared to pass the exams.

Exams can be retaken (fees apply). The WSET allows 3 years total to complete all units, which gives students time to retake any failed exams. At the end of 3 years students need to reapply to the Diploma program.

Our Top Industry Faculty:

We are proud to have a roster of top wine industry faculty made up Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, Winemakers,  MW candidates (WSET Diploma holders), and other leading global wine industry experts. We believe that your success as a student rests on the quality of our instructors.

Master of Wine Instructors:

  • Christy Canterbury, MW
  • Nova Cadamatre, MW
  • Matt Deller, MW
  • Peter Marks, MW
  • Mary Margaret McCamic, MW

Master Sommelier Instructors:

  • Tim Gaiser, MS

Wine Industry Faculty:

  • Gence Alton, dipWSET
  • Brenda Audino, dipWSET
  • Geralyn Brostrom, Italian Wine Central Co-Founder
  • Catherine Bugué, dipWSET
  • Vanessa Conlin, dipWSET, MW candidate
  • Csilla Kato dipWSET, Winemaker
  • Curtis Mann, dipWSET MW candidate
  • Christian Oggenfuss, dipWSET
  • Kryss Speegle, dipWSET, Winemaker MW candidate
  • Gus Zhu, dipWSET, MW candidate

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do I need to hold the wset level 3 prior to starting diploma?

Yes, WSET will not let you enroll in Level 4 Diploma until you have officially received your pass grade for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines Course.

Can I begin my diploma studies with a unit other than unit 1 and 2?

No, the WSET requires you to first sit the Unit 2 exam before doing any other Diploma Unit exam or paper – including Unit 1. That may sound odd, as you would think that you should start with Unit 1, but the Diploma units are not done in sequential order. Unit 2 must come first.

What happens if I don’t pass unit 2?

You may still proceed to other units as long as you have taken the Unit 2 exam. If you do not pass the exam you are able to schedule a retake, however, you do not have to wait until that retake before moving on to other units.

What happens if I can’t make an exam date?

Exam dates are set globally by the WSET headquarters, not by Napa Valley Wine Academy. Thus they are not flexible. Exam registrations are due to WSET 8 weeks prior to the exam date. If you give less than 8 weeks notice to opt out of your scheduled exam you cannot get out of taking it. The only exceptions are for documented medical or legal excuses. If you miss an exam it goes down as a “non-attend,” which is the same as a fail. You will need to pay for the exam when it is next offered, which may not be for a year. Exam dates are published well in advance so you really need to schedule your life around these dates.

Are the unit 1 exam and the unit 1 paper connected?

No, these are two separate assessments, each counting for 50% of your Unit 1 grade. They are based on different topics and have unique due dates. They do not have to be completed together.

Is it possible to finish diploma in 12 months?

No. The reason for this is that it would be impossible to get all the Unit exams completed in 12 months, given the way they are scheduled by the WSET. More practically, The Level 4 Diploma is a very comprehensive and challenging course of study and thus it takes at least 18 months to complete.

How long do I have to complete all diploma units?

When you enroll in the LEvel 4 Diploma it is for a term of three years.

What study materials come with my tuition and what do I need to get on my own?

For each Unit, the WSET publishes a Study Guide outlining what you need to know for that Unit. You will also need to purchase your own copy of “The Oxford Companion to Wine,” by Jancis Robinson and “Understanding Wine Technology,” by David Bird. We also provide a list of other books and websites that are recommended.

Can I switch providers/schools for individual diploma units?

The WSET expects you to complete the Level 4 Diploma with the provider you originally enroll with. If that provider is not offering a unit or unit exam that you need it is ok to take it with another provider. If you move to another provider’s area you may also switch to that provider.

When do traditional in-person classes meet?

The in-person courses meet on select weekends from 9AM-5PM throughout the year. This scheduling allows for people who live a distance from the class location to attend.