EP 10 Stu Smith Winemaker The Stories Behind Wine mp3 imageIn Episode 3 of the Stories Behind Wine, we sit down with Ian Harris the CEO of the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) to talk about the growth of the world’s oldest and largest wine education body and how Ian came to hold his position and grow the reach of the WSET. There is more to his story…

On today’s show, I sit down with I’m in, in Michael Harris is my middle name, no one ever uses it. So Ian Michael Harris, I’m chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Ian’s journey begins at university in England.

I studied French at university and I enjoyed my school days so much that I thought I’d quite like to go back and become a teacher teaching French. And as part of my university degree I had the opportunity to go. And live in France as a, as an assistant teacher for a year. So I did that and because I was very keen on playing rugby, my tutor at university suggested I go down to the Southwest of France.

So I applied for a school, just South of Bordeaux. And that’s where I ended up just South of the, so turn area, a small school in a little town called bad-ass. And I got to know people who worked in the wine business because my pupils, I was only 20 and my, the pupils, I was teaching English to between 16 and 18.

So they were more like friends than pupils. And a lot of them were connected with the wine business, either parents who own vineyards or parents who worked for negotiator. And I. I used to get invited to their houses for dinner. So I could speak English to their other children and give them free English lessons, and I just got interested in wine and I remember it was about three months in and I wrote my mother a postcard in the days before emails saying I’ve just come back two o’clock in the morning from a fantastic dinner at a vineyard in. So turn. The owner of the vineyard cooked steaks over the cuttings from the vines.

He’d just pruned. Then we went back in and finished dinner and I’ve just got home to my apartment at two o’clock in the morning, the wine trade seems a bit like more fun than teaching and that was it. So I didn’t know when I came back to the UK to do my final exams. With this is 1976. My final exams were going to be in June 77.

I didn’t know how you could get into the wine business. It wasn’t something that I was in any shape or form interested in prior to living in France. But a friend of mine who I played cricket with had accounts at. Three fine wine companies. And I asked him how you get into it into wine. And the next week, when we were playing cricket together, he brought me the price list of one of the companies, which was a company called Christopher and company.

Who’d been founded before the great fire of London in 1666. And I wrote to them, I wrote one letter to the managing director saying who I was, and I was just about to finish my degree. I got a letter back about a week later saying, please come in for, to meet meet him. So I went out and bought a suit cause I didn’t have a suit.

I went in to see him and I came out an hour later with a job. So one letter, one interview, one job, which is certainly something which never happens today. I’ve got to. Girls in their twenties, desperately trying to find work and they have to apply for thousands before they can even get one. So I was very lucky.

So it was, I was in the, I guess I was in the right place at the right time, which sort of has followed me as a trait for the last 40 years. That’s a great story. And definitely, it sounds like a serendipity and it was meant to be, I’d like to think so. Yeah. So Ian. Since that fateful day, when the one letter, a one interview, one, one job Trinity.

Yeah. You have gone a long way and you have driven remarkable growth with the WSET in the UK and across the world. Since you joined, I believe in 2002, and this achievement seems to have been punctuated by being named drinks businessman of the year in 2014, receiving a lifetime achievement award at the drink, retailers awards.

And also accepting the Queen’s award for enterprise in international trade. On behalf of the WSET tell us a little bit about what the WSET is and its mission. We were, the WCT was founded in 1969 to educate the UK drinks trade predominantly the wine trade, which was just starting to get get some sort of traction.

And this is in the late sixties. So the wine and spirit education trust was set up. To educate people who worked predominantly in the wine business, which in those days was fine. Wine merchants wine was really the it was people who had been brought up in relatively well or families who drank wine.

Wine was not commonplace in those days. And then so when I joined the wine business in 1977, the first thing my boss did was send me on WSET courses. So I did what was the certificate, which is now the equivalent of level two. The highest certificate, which is now the equivalent of level three, and then the diploma all in the space of three years.

And in 1980, I completed my diploma. So the WCT was in those days only teaching people who worked in the UK, then in the eighties, a few international. Countries started to hear about WSET. Although in fact, the very first international exam run outside the UK by WSET was actually as far back as 1977 in Toronto in Canada.

And that was because the liquor board of Ontario had heard about the WSET courses. And someone from Ontario came over to London and they arranged that they would be able to sit and examine Ontario. But the international growth of WSET only really started in 1990. And when I joined in 2002 to two thirds of the UK two thirds of the students were from the UK.

One third were from international markets and there were about eight or nine international markets. Yeah. Doing WSET courses and taking WSET exams, and then that’s grown. If I give you some statistics in, so in 2002, the total of the WSET students in that year was 10,000, roughly of those six and a half thousand were in the UK three and a half thousand were in international markets in the last academic year.

That figure of. 10,000 a year had risen to 72,000 a year. And all of those three quarters just over three quarters are now in international markets, which means that the number of international students in the last 12 months was 54,000 compared with three and a half thousand 15 years ago. So our international growth has really driven the growth of WCT over the last 15 years.

Since I’ve been here. That’s phenomenal growth. I think any business would be envious of that achievement. You mentioned that the growth on the international side of WSET has been the driver at this last 12 months, which markets are seeing the most activity with with interest in WSET certifications.

Okay. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear that China. Is China has gone from virtually nothing 10 years ago to over just like in the last year, about, for greater China, about 15, 16,000 students a year. But the other big one has been the USA. The USA has grown. We where we started in the USA back in the 1990s.

So we’ve, we had a. We had a sentence, still do have a center in New York, and we also had a center on the West coast. But now we have over well over 40 centers dotting our I’s dotted around the USA and we’re also doing a do it. We started to do WSET courses in the major distributors and this was about four or five years ago.

So that’s had. A very big impact on our growth in the USA. And also as we’ve got some very good schools in the USA. You of course running one of them which is all helping to spread the word about education and about qualifications across the States. So our three biggest markets China is now our biggest market for students followed by the UK.

But number three is USA. And USA is growing at the moment, just over 50% a year. So we’re looking for great things from the USA, China, and China’s growing at about 60%. So those two big markets are driving our growth at the moment. Who are these qualifications for who should be looking at a WSET qualification?

Is it a very narrow segment of the wine industry or does it, is it a certification that is geared more to a broader segment of the wine industry? Very good question. The first thing to say is that about two thirds of our students have some connection with the industry. But one third have no connection with the industry.

These are just people who want to learn about wines and spirits and want a certificate to put on their wall to show that they know something about it. But if we take the two-thirds of our students who are in the trade, the way I describe it is if your job means that you have to physically touch a bottle, a glass, a grape.

Anything that goes into making wine. If you physically have to touch something that goes into making wine than you are in the industry, and these qualifications are relevant for you. So it could be a wine maker, could be the guy who serves behind the bar at a local restaurant. It could be a wholesaler who actually has to shift boxes around, says anybody who touches wines or spirits.

These courses, the courses and the qualifications are relevant. How is the WSET certification track different from other organizations, such as the core of massive, so many A’s or in the U S the society of wine educators. We often get asked about the differences. We’d love to hear your perspective.

Of course. Yeah. And it’s a question that I often get asked and if you don’t mind my pronunciation of the word I know that in America, the accent is on the first syllable, so it’s Somali and I whenever I’m in America, I get people saying to me, so if I do your courses, does that make me a Somali and I have to go, no, it makes you more knowledgeable than you were before.

But to me being a Brit. Somalia is the person who serves your wine at the table and gets the wine list sorted out and orders the wines for the restaurant. So the quartermaster Somalis, we actually worked very closely with the court of master Somalis and the majority of people who want to go on to the Ms.

Master of Somalia qualification, actually do WCT qualifications to give them their product knowledge, which gives them the basis to then go on to. The Somalia qualifications, which are more vocational looking at specific jobs, protect specifically running the wine programs in restaurants. So that’s how we fit in with the court of master summit is when it comes to the society of wine educators.

People often say to me, aren’t they? Your competitor? My view is always actually, if organizations are doing education and have not good, robust. Qualifications as indeed the society of wine educators has. That’s fine by me. That’s absolutely fine. We’re not trying to squash anyone. Who’s doing education.

In fact, we encourage it. We are actually a member of the society of wine educators. So we go to their conference, my team, some of them will speak at their conference. So we have we have we co-exist perfectly happily whether someone wants to do an SWE qualification or a WSET qualification, to be honest, it’s up to them.

We we would not dissuade anyone from doing someone else’s qualifications. What we would do is persuade them that the knowledge they’re going to get from doing a WCT qualification is firstly bang up to date. Relevant to their job or their personal interest, if they’re a consumer and we’re the biggest in the world, so we must be doing something.

I don’t know whether that answers your question as someone who’s delivering courses. You must have people at the front end who were saying, so should I do SWE or should I do CMS? Or should I do WSET all you can do is tell them. What the qualifications are like, tell them what’s in the subject, ask them to speak to past students.

And they’re really, the choice is up to them. Our view is that as long as the WCT qualifications, the course books, the materials, the specifications, the teachers are bang up to date and are doing a first class job. And then everything is of the highest possible quality. Then people will want to. Do a WSET qualification wherever I go in the world, I’m staggered by the reputation that we’ve got everywhere in the world.

We have courses available now in over 70 countries. There’s a big ones, obviously like China in USA, but we’ve got a whole raft of smaller countries. And I was sitting next to I’m slightly digressing, but I was sitting next to someone at a dinner last week from Lebanon and I was introduced to him and he’s.

I won’t tell you who he is, but he’s associated with the most famous vineyard in Lebanon. And he shook my hand and said, thank God for WSET. And I said, can I put that in print? He said, no probably best not. But when I hear people like this guy, who’s highly respected and in a relatively small producing country, not only has he heard about us, he thinks that.

Having WST qualifications around the world is such a wonderful way for the industry to get, make itself better. So really just does my heart. Good. I, sorry, I’ve rambled a little bit, but as I’m pretty passionate about what we do the WSET obviously, as you as you mentioned, one of the initiatives or should I say Desires is to always say, stay up to date.

And you recently launched a new soccer education program. What was the main driver for this? Because it is a slight departure from wine and spirits. Tell us a little bit about what the driver for Saki education was. Actually I’m interesting. We used to, when I joined the diversity reset, we used to have beer as within our qualifications.

And actually we lost that about. Two years after I joined, because it, firstly, the syllabus for wine in particular, it was getting wider and broader something had to go. But then when we had the opportunity and we started talking about how we could expand the subjects of Saki came up, kept coming up and the rationale for it is actually someone who drinks fine wine.

It’s the same person who’s likely to drink Saki. And that he’s also, that person might also be the same person. Who’s going to drink more whiskey or go into a cocktail bar and drink vodka. So it’s not about. The production method that actually is irrelevant. It’s about the target consumer, who is drinking Saki, who is the same consumer, who’s drinking fine wine, probably in the same restaurants and going to the same stores and going online to buy the same products.

It happened to coincide with the fact that we were having a big push into Japan and the Japanese government asked us. If we had any plans to succeed because they knew of our reputation. So they actually helped us and unashamedly they helped to fund particularly our educator program. So we’ve we ran the first educator programs in Japan, funded by two departments from the Japanese government.

And this really gave it a kickstart, but it’s more, the fact that soccer is available in most major cities around the world. Now in the same restaurants where. The or the people going in there will be interested in wine. So it was just a natural fit. So what’s next in, in wine education, what do you think wine education looks like in the next five to 10 years down the road?

How will it be changing? I think there’s going to be more of an emphasis on online content, to be honest, the. When I did my WC courses, 40 nearly 40 years ago, you turned out to a classroom, you tasted wine, you were lectured at you. Weren’t taught, you were lectured at you listened while an expert talked to you.

You tasted the wines. And then a few days later, or a few weeks later, you did an exam. And then a few weeks later you got your certificate these days. Firstly, people want things more quickly. They and I have to say to many people when they go, Oh, I want to do level two next week. And then as soon as I get the results, I’ll do level three.

And then as soon as I’ve done that, I want to sign up for diploma. And I have to say to them, look, don’t be impatient. Take time, go to tastings, read books, read blogs, meet people. When you feel you’re ready, then go onto the next level. But I really feel that the biggest. Not innovation because it’s already there.

But the biggest development within wine and spirit education over the next 10 years will be the growth of online education tying in with that will be online assessment. And that’s quite a big hurdle for us because online education, as long as the content is good. And when someone’s got their phone in their hand, or they’re sitting at home in front of their.

Laptop or iPad doing education online on any subject is relatively straightforward. It’s the assessment. I, the examination, which has a few hurdles because as an accredited qualification, we need to know that the person at the end of the line doing their online examination is actually the person that they say they are.

And they haven’t got someone just out of. Camera Schulte. Who’s a master of wine, passing them notes out of view of the camera. So I’ve got a team of people now working on, developing out. We’ve got an online classroom already, which is pretty good, but it could be a way better. So I think online education and online assessment is going to not just revolutionize wine education.

It’s just going to spread it more quickly, more widely and more effectively. What are some of the biggest challenges that an organization like, like the WSET faces? One of the, I think one of the biggest hurdles, which we tend to, we certainly faced when I first joined, but I think we’ve stressed to companies, the value of education as a driver of business, whether you’re a wholesaler or a restaurant, a bar even a vineyard, is that.

Cutting. The training budget is not a good idea. The problem of course, is that we have things like the global financial crisis of 2008 and nine, and I’ve worked in a multinational company myself. When someone says to you, you’ve got to cut your budgets by 20%, the red pen tends to go straight towards the training budget because.

A lot of people think if I cut the training budget, it doesn’t matter. As long as I reinstate it next year, no one will notice my staff will be okay as long as we give them training next year. But cut it for one year. And that is a really big mistake because we’ve proved time and time again, the giving staff in whatever company, a.

Training program shows that you value them and they will, the good ones will stay. If you don’t give people training, the good ones will go and the bad ones will stay. And that’s what you don’t want. So it’s convincing companies that the training budget needs to be viewed as an investment, not as a cost in the same way that if you are running a wholesaler, you’ve got to think of it in the same terms as buying a new delivery vehicle.

It’s an investment in your business, which has got to put money on the bottom line because we’ve proved time and time again, that whether it’s a consumer or whether it’s someone serving front of house, the more they know, the more they will be prepared to pay for a bottle of wine, a glass of wine or spirits.

And therefore the more margin will be breathed into the whole of the distribution chain from producer to distributor to retailer. To consumer. So it’s all down to getting the consumer to actually have a reason to spend more money and education people, companies should view education as part of their marketing budget, not part of their overheads.

What is one of the things you think some people would be surprised to learn about your organization about the WSET? Just the sheer size of us, actually, when I say too, because I even in the UK industry, which is, has grown up with the WSET, I meet people who still think of WCT as a sleepy little organization.

When I joined it, it was 21 people when I first started teaching for WSET because I actually. Taught on diploma on the subject of spirits. Back in the 1990s, there were eight or nine people. And a lot of people still think of us as a sleepy little organization. And when I say I’ve got 107 people reporting to me and 72,000 people took a WST qualification in one of 73 countries and seven, just over 700 centers around the world.

I think that’s the thing that stack is people, just the sheer scale that we’ve now got. And the fact that. When I say and of course China’s our biggest market. People sometimes look at me as if I’m daft, because they just don’t realize how big China is and how they firstly, buy into the idea of education.

Also, there is a real burgeoning wine market. So there’s lots of things that people are surprised about in this industry. But as far as diversity is concerned, it’s about the sheer scale and growth because we’ve grown with six times the size we were. 15 years ago. So it’s a big organization, which creates its own headaches for me, but I love it so I can live with it.

What advice would you give someone looking to enter the wine business from another industry? The first advice is make sure you’ve managed your expectations in terms of salary. Because if you come from a sector like the financial sector, or indeed the FMC sector where you’ve been the marketing director for someone like Proctor and gamble, don’t think you’re going to come into a similar job in a wine company and earn the same package.

And I had that personally, when I left Seagram, I knew I’d be taking a step down. I no longer got a company car and know we’ve got health insurance, but actually. The advice I would give you your question was what advice would I give? Firstly, make sure you can afford to join the wine industry. If you’re actually very well paid in another industry, you might want to just have a bit of a think about that.

But the other advice is you will really enjoy yourself. It’s a wonderful industry to work and you meet lovely people. Even if you’re struggling to make margins and your. Competing against another company for the same piece of business. Somehow it’s more fun than trying to sell washing machines or washing powder or dog food to somebody because the empathy with the product is always there.

And however much you might be competing against somebody. There’s always time for a glass of wine at the end of the day, where you discuss business, you discuss opportunities and it’s just. Maybe it’s because I’ve only ever worked in that industry for 40 years, but I love it. And I, to say to people the advice I would give is if you want a job where you will enjoy your work, join the wine and spirit business, because I, and feel free to add this, edit this out.

But I quite often get asked to go and speak to students at universities, not wine students, just students through friends of mine. And I say to them, I start off by putting the number 168 on a chart and saying, what does that what’s that? And the smart ones will go 168. Oh yeah. That’s the number of hours in a week.

I’ll go. Yeah. Okay. And then I put another number up, which is 50 and they say what’s a, I say, what’s that? And I said that’s the sort of the hours you work in a week, assume you work eight hours a day. And you’ve got a two hour commute. So about 50 hours. A week is what you work out of the 168, and then put another chart out, which says w which is 56.

And that’s the number of hours you’re asleep. So take 156 off 168. You’re left with 112. I’m pretty much half of that waking time you are working. So if you don’t enjoy your job, that means you’re pretty much wasting half of your life. So you might as well have a job you enjoy. So my advice to anybody is.

Be realistic about the salary expectations, but you could, but it’s more than compensated by the fact that you will actually enjoy your job rather than dreading getting up in the morning. Mentoring roles play an important part in many successful individuals rise to to start them.

If you will. In your rise to the top of the WSET. Have any mentors played a role in, in helping you along the way? Yeah, I would say if I’m looking at people, who’ve really made a difference in my career before I joined. So I’m looking at before the WSET there are certainly people within, since I’ve joined the WSET, who’ve given me very good advice, which has helped.

Me too. Do what we’ve done here, but prior to joining the WSET I had, there are two are actually the three people I’ll mention three people. And if they ever get to listen to this, they’re going to be hugely embarrassed. The first one was my. It was the managing director of Waverley vintners, which was part of which was the first company I worked for a guy called Sandy Kustoff orphan a lovely man who I still see.

And I tell him this and he gets very embarrassed. He plucked me out of the obscure, relatively relative obscurity of being just one of the sales force and took me out to work for him as WCTC as sorry, Waverley Vintner’s first wine development manager. And he drummed into me the importance of, and he had a thing on his desk, which was M B w a.

And I said, Sandy what’s is that some company said notes management by walking about, and he taught me the importance. And this is obviously before emails, pretty much before computers of actually going out. And whether you’ve got people who work. With you work for you or on whom you’re reliant, go out and speak to them.

Don’t pick up, don’t just pick up the phone. Certainly don’t get right to them. And these, all these days, send them an email. Get off your chair or. Look at the color of their eyes. And that’s really, that has really helped me. So he was the first one. The next one was my, when I first moved into marketing at Seagram the first marketing director I worked for was a lady called Annie Divya.

Who’s by, as you can hear a French and she was an exceptional boss. I almost didn’t get the job when I applied for it. This was the run. The Martell brand in the UK when Seagram bought Martel, because when I walked into her office, she was on the phone, rattling away in French to somebody.

She motioned for me to sit down, which I did. And then five minutes later, she came off the phone. And one of the prerequisites for the job that I was applying for was to be able to speak French because the guys in Martel, their English wasn’t very good. So she put the phone down, she looked me in the eye and she said, I guess you understood every word I was saying on that phone call and I have to think very quickly.

Cause if I had said yes, it implied that I was listening in on her conversation. And if I said, no, it implied that my French wasn’t up to scratch. So luckily I came up with the phrase, had I been listening? I would have been, I would have understood every word. So the thing that she taught me, she was honesty.

So in a big company like Seagram, a lot of people height, they are quite selfish. If they’re on big bonus schemes, she taught me to be totally honest. Don’t ever pull the wool over somebody’s eyes because they’ll find you out. So that was the second one third person. And. And I bumped into him actually on the way back from pro vine two days ago was my the managing director at Seagram.

When I was, when I came back to be marketing director at secretly UK, a guy called John Ratcliffe. And John is John was deputy managing director of OD bins. He then moved across to Seagram UK and whenever I had someone new, join me at Seagram. And John was walking past. I used to have to say to these new recruits of mine, see that guy over there.

He may look like the cleaner, but he’s actually the managing director and the smartest bloke in this building. So do not underestimate him. But John was really a man of the people, John Wood. Go and talk to anybody about anything he would ask and all the clock, what’s the latest order they got in.

And he would ask a salesman as he seen such and such a company. And he was actually a workaholic and still is. And I guess I’ve probably inherited a bit of that, but it does help if you’ve got a job you really love. To work long, long hours, but so John, I guess John taught me the work ethic and taught me the honesty.

And Sandy taught me the importance of actually going out and speaking to people and looking them in the eye. So yeah, those three, since I joined the WTT, I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had chairman of trustees because we’re a charity. So not for profit organization. I report to a board of trustees and I have, I’ve had some excellent chairman, all of whom I’ve worked very closely with.

And all of whom I’m now personal friends with. And I’m now on my seventh chairman since I joined. And every single one of them has given me advice, which has helped. Most of them have been older than me with an exception, but sorry, two exceptions, but they’ve all helped me in different ways and helped to open doors that I couldn’t open.

So I tend to I’m the chief executive and I run the place and I’m a real controller. I do rely on. Other people, whether they are trustees chairman to help me to open doors. Cause I’m not able to open every single door that I want to push out. So I’m very grateful for all the chairman that we’ve, that I’ve had since I joined here 15 years ago.

What drives you? What motivates you? What gets you out of bed and in the morning, I, I suppose fine. I love my job and success actually success. Is something that I thrive on it. I thrive on seeing things which is successful. When I go around the world to trade shows. I love it. When people come up to me and they want to shake my hand these days, they want a selfie with me, which is absolutely fine.

And I love hearing people talk about how much they’ve enjoyed their course or the job they’ve got as a result of their WCT qualification. So I’m very ambitious. And it’s not just work life, it’s home life as well. My children are both very bright and they’ve, they’re making their way in the world.

One still at university one’s now working for NBC news and I take immense pride in the fact that they seem to have inherited my work ethic. And my work ethic actually comes from my father originally. Cause he was he he was a soldier in the second world war. He was taken prisoner.

He was in a prison camp for a year and a half before the second world war ended. So he didn’t, he his youth was completely ruined by the second world war. He was 26 when the second world war ended, he hadn’t been to college. He’d left. He’d been called out when he was still at high school, what were, you would call high school?

And he taught me the importance of hard graft to get on. And he always said to me, if you give 120% to her. Company. So you’re prepared to work longer hours. You’re prepared to go that extra mile. You will reap 150% reward and that’s just stuck with me. So that drives me. It’s remembering what my dad taught me and the fact that working, I just love doing what I do.

So when I get up in the morning, I just, it doesn’t take, I don’t even, I normally wake up before the alarm goes off. I jump on the bike and here I am. So I love my job. So as long as I love my job, I’ll be happy. So with so many achievements under your belt, what’s next for Ian Harris? For me personally as you can see from the receding hairline and the gray hairs around the ears here I’m 62 next month.

People often say to me, when are you going to retire? To be honest, I’m going to put it off quite a while yet. I’m thinking of. That I might consider retiring when I’m 66, so four and a bit years, but actually what’s next to me for me is to do what for duct, for WCT, what the WCT has achieved in wine.

I want us to achieve in spirits because if you take those 72,000 students, 90, probably 95% of those nine they’ve, 72,000 students do WST courses because they want to learn about wine. There’s a massive world out there in countries, which aren’t necessarily wine countries in South America, in Southeast Asia, in Northern Europe, which are, have very strong spirits, businesses, spirits, retailers, spirits shops in a spirits culture.

And that’s an area which we have only just scratched the surface. So I think within the next five years, we can double the number of students that we’ve got. Just by actually getting our spirits act together because at the moment we have spirits qualifications, we’re spending a lot of time and effort and resource on making them better and introducing new ones.

So I guess the biggest thing what’s next for Ian Harris, Harrison is more growth for WSET and that’s going to come from spirits is going to come from, as we said, at the very beginning, more digital learning. And it’s going to be, it’s going to be making sure that the reputation of the organization stays as high as it is.

So yeah. Short term health, God willing. I’ll be here for a few more years yet. And will I ever slow down? Yeah, of course I will at some stage, but not just yet. Final question. And I have for you is if you could host a dinner with two to three distinguished guests from the wine world living or dead, who would you include at the dining room table?

Okay. If it was three people, it would be Michael Broadbent, who I love to bits. He’s just. The most wonderful man knowledgeable charming, it would have to be Jan SIS dances, Robinson. And I would probably, so they’re obviously both alive. If I w and I was thinking about this, I would go back. I would invite Andre Simo because Andre Simo started wine education in the UK before the first world war.

So just after the turn of the 20th century. So over a hundred, hundred years ago, and I’ve read books by him, I’ve read the textbooks that he wrote, which were the first wine education textbooks back in 19, 19, 1918. And I would love to have met him. So Michael pro bent, Janice Robinson, Andre SEMA.

Ian, it’s been an absolute pleasure to to spend this time with you. And thanks so much for your openness and candor in answering these questions. Congratulations on the enormous success of of the WSET and for what is yet to come. And we look forward to having you back on the show at some sometime in the future.

Brilliant. Thanks very much. It’s been a pleasure. It’s a pleasure to speak to you over the airwaves and I hope you have a good week. It’s early in the morning where you are. So I hope you have a good rest of the day. Thank you so much in chairs and enjoy your evening. Thanks very much.

Take care. Bye-bye bye-bye thank you for tuning into the stories behind wine. Make sure to share us with your friends, subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review until next time. I’m Christian face . .



Christian Oggenfuss

Christian Oggenfuss

Christian Oggenfuss, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Napa Valley Wine Academy, is a passionate wine industry spokesman and educator. He holds the dipWSET, the highest certification from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Wine & Spirits. Christian also holds the French Wine Scholar (FWS), the Italian Wine Professional (IWP), and the American Wine Expert (AWE) certification. He is also one of only 64 Bourgogne Wine Ambassadors in the world.


Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

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Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


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Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


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Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


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Aloft Nashville

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


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Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


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Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559