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Napa Valley Wine Expert Online Course™

4.88 out of 5 based on 8 customer ratings
(8 customer reviews)


with Master of Wine Peter Marks

A Complete Certification Course on the Wines of Napa Valley

Napa Valley Wine Expert is the first and only certification course focusing on the wine region of Napa Valley. The course is an ideal way to master the wines and wine regions of Napa Valley and to earn your NVWE postnominal and certification.

Designed for students of wine and anyone working in the wine industry who deals with the wines of Napa Valley who wants to have a deeper knowledge of Napa Valley wines, AVAs, history, geology, climate, and producers.

This course is the most comprehensive wine study program on the Napa Valley and will give you the confidence to communicate with more authority about Napa Valley. This course is considered critical to the success of any wine professional and serious wine student.

Please note your course starts immediately upon enrollment and you will have 12-months of course access.

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What are the prerequisites? This course assumes that you already have an understanding of general wine making and major grape varietiesStudents should be familiar with common wine terms and concepts from previous experience or a general wine course.

Napa Valley Wine Expert is a deep look at Napa Valley it’s history, the most planted and important grape varieties, it’s16 nested AVAs, soil, and climates. For those who are already acquainted with a few of Napa’s wines and grapes, this course will broaden and deepen your knowledge your perspective and add some new ones to your working knowledge. There are twenty-two lessons, each presenting a manageable amount of relevant information about Napa Valley. The lessons are:

Check out the outline below for an overview of the course curriculum.

  • Getting Started
    • Instructor Bio
    • Welcome Video
  • Module 1 - History & Appellations
    • Module 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 | AVAs Defined
    • 1.2 | Nested AVA vs. Sub AVA
    • 1.3 | History of Napa Valley
    • Review & Quiz
  • Module 2- Napa Valley's Climate & Terrior
    • Module 2 Introduction
    • 2.1 | Climate
    • 2.2 | Topography
    • Review & Quiz
  • Module 3 - Grape Growing & Winemaking
    • Module 3 Introduction
    • 3.1 | Viticulture
    • 3.2 | Winemaking
    • Review & Quiz
  • Module 4 - Key Grape Varieties
    • Module 4 Introduction
    • 4.1 | White Grape Varieties
    • 4.2 | Red Grape Varieties
    • Handout | Comparing the Grape Varieties
    • Review & Quiz
  • Module 5 - Napa Valley AVAS
    • Module 5 Introduction
    • 5.1 | Mountain AVAs
    • 5.2 | Valley AVAs
    • 5.3 | The Non-AVA
    • Handout | Comparing the AVAs
    • Review & Quiz
  • Course Wrap-Up
    • Review
    • Final Assessment (Certification Exam)

About the Instructor

It's always nice to know a little about your guide so here's some information about me and my work experience, which I will share with you through the content delivered in this course.

I'm proud to say that I'm one of only 52 Masters of Wine residing in the United States. The prestigious Master of Wine (MW) title is bestowed by the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) in London.  The IMW promotes the highest level of educational achievement for the wine industry, which I received in 1995 when I became the 10th American to pass.  That year, I also became the first American to receive the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award, which is bestowed annually to the MW candidate with the highest blind tasting score.

Previously I served as the Vice President of Wine Education for Constellation Brands, where I oversaw education programs and content development for Constellation Academy. Before joining Constellation Wines, I was the Senior Vice President of Wine at COPIA:  The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in Napa. I was responsible for all wine sales and education programs. Previous to working at COPIA I was the Chief Wine Merchant at, a wine Internet retailer serving more than 40 states. 15 years prior to that, I was Director of Wine for the upscale Draeger’s Supermarkets located in Northern California.

I graduated from the University of California at Davis, in 1976, with a B.S. degree in Food Service Management, with highest honors.  I attended a number of enology and viticulture classes that piqued my interest in the subject of wine and complemented my desire to work in the food service field.  I held positions as a chef and restaurant manager, upon graduation, until I entered the retail wine trade in 1981.

I am on the Education and Exam Board of the Institute of Masters of Wine, where I serve as the Panel Chair of the Practical (Tasting) Exam for the Institute of Masters of Wine and judge many international wine competitions. I am also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, and I teach wine classes independently and assist with many charitable fundraisers throughout the year.

Why you will LOVE taking this online certification class!

Receiving recognition is a pivotal moment for you. Once you have successfully passed the exam we will send you your certificate and badges.

  • Our digital certificate and badges are designed so you can share your achievement with a single click. You can share to 100+ social media platforms, and it's easy to add your achievement to LinkedIn.
  • Any digital certificates can easily be saved as a PDF with all of your certificate information in place. You can print your achievement and hang it on your wall if you really miss having a traditional paper certificate.
  • You can even embed your digital certificates and badges into your email signatures or website to share your achievements with their colleagues and clients.
  • Your certification your way

About the certification Exam: The online proctored exam consists of 50 questions (a combination of matching, fill-in-the-blank, map identification, multiple-choice, and spelling) that need to be answered in 40 minutes. Students must score at least 80% to achieve the Napa Valley Wine Expert Certificate and display the NWE postnominal after their name.

Napa Valley Wine Expert is entirely online, so it is available on your own schedule. Each lesson consists of a series of online reading assignments, interactive activities, videos, and quizzes. A timed feedback test is provided at the end of each lesson for students to practice for the exam and assess their understanding of that lesson’s topics. System Requirements: As this course is taught online, students will require access to a computer with the following minimum requirements: Internet Firefox 9, Chrome 10 or equivalent with Javascript enabled. Adobe Reader XI or equivalent. Adobe Flash Player 11. Internet access (broadband recommended).  A webcam is required for the online exam. When the course is over the student arranges with Napa Valley Wine Academy to take the Exam online.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the course

Is there a book with the course?
No, the course is entirely online, so students should take notes during the course if they want hard-copy study materials.

When is the course taught and how long does it take?
Napa Valley Wine Expert is entirely online, so it is available on your schedule. You can start at any time. The entire course will take most students approximately 8-weeks provided they spend 3-hours a week in the course. It is recommended taking it slowly and concentrating on each lesson individually, so you will have eight weeks to complete the course from the time you start.

Is there any wine tasting involved?
Tasting the wines of Napa Valley during the course is a great way to get the full measure of the course material, but it is not required. There is no tasting component to the final exam.

What is the final exam like and what do students receive if they pass?
At the end of Napa Valley Wine Expert course, there is a final exam. The exam is taken online, any day, any time. There is no additional cost for this exam. The test is 50 questions long, with a variety of question types.  Students who pass the exam will earn the NWE certificate and the right to use the NWE post-nominal. Most importantly, after completing Napa Valley Wine Expert, you will have a comprehensive understanding of Napa Valley’s AVAs, grape varieties, history, and terroir. Armed with this information, you will be able to confidently communicate, sell, teach, and buy Napa Valley Wines.

How does this course fit in with other wine courses?

For anyone pursuing an extended program of wine studies, Napa Valley Wine Expert is a great way to deepen your knowledge on the wine region fo Napa Valley. Situations vary depending on each individual’s background and goals, but we would generally recommend that those following the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) program take Napa Valley Wine Expert between the certified and advanced levels, those working through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) program take it after levels 3, and those in the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) program take it after doing the CSW.

Additional information



Knowledge Level



American Wine Studies, Napa Valley Wine Academy

Region of Study

California, Napa Valley, USA

Course Format

Online Course

Course Type

Enthusiast, Professional


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4.88 out of 5 stars

8 reviews

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What others are saying

  1. Zoe

    Zoe (verified owner):

    The rich history and details provided in the Napa Valley Wine Expert course were amazing! It was like curling up with the best book ever about wine and Napa Valley. The layout of the material, as well as, the content gave me a feeling of really getting to know the region from a perspective I would not have had otherwise. The chapter and mock exams fully prepare you to understand your level of knowledge acquired from the course.

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  2. Mike

    Mike (verified owner):

    I enjoyed the Napa Valley Wine Expert course and thought the content was very challenging and informative. For those on the CMS ladder, the course description said it was geared toward those who are between the Certified and Advanced levels, and I thought that was a perfect description of the difficulty level. It has great background, history, and insights on specific wines and producers, which is very useful to me while studying for the Advanced Exam. The maps and information on the soils, geography, elevation, and much more for the 16 nested AVAs (and one non-AVA) in Napa Valley provides great context and a lot of depth.

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  3. Geoffrey Geiger

    Geoffrey Geiger:

    An approachable way to delve into the intricacies of Napa wine. Can seem overwhelming at first due to the amount of information, but taking notes and reviewing constantly is key. Helped me gain a better appreciation for Napa! Would loved to have seen more visuals like wine labels, but overall a fantastic course.

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  4. Tom Richards

    Tom Richards:

    I loved this course and all the info that was provided. The videos and interactive elements kept if fun and engaging! Well done!!

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  5. Andrea Boudreau

    Andrea Boudreau:

    Good course, however, sometimes the information is hard to navigate and you can easily miss out on some of the wineries that are discussed especially Dunn in Howell Mountain and some of the Pritchett Hill wineries.

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  6. Anita Jozsef

    Anita Jozsef:

    Two years ago I was on a wine tour in Sonoma and Glen Ellen and I immediatley fell in love with Zinfandel. The California hospitaly and heart-warming vineyars made me realize, I have to leave my office career behind and follow my passion for Napa Valley wines. I so much enjoyed your course! It is like you never want a module to get to an end. You are so much inspired to learn about AVAs, climate, geology amd the grapes. I enjoyed watching the videos with Peter Marks, MW, as well. And imagine! I got a job interview possibility in Europe for a California wine job after having completed your wine course. Thank you very much Napa Valley Wine Academy!

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  7. Miranda Franco

    Miranda Franco:

    A wonderful way to learn about Napa’s evolution, AVAs and premier wineries. The course was highly instructive.

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  8. Dave Ficeli

    Dave Ficeli:

    As a long time member of the wine industry, I wasn’t sure what this course would offer me but I can tell you that I learned a great deal. Lots of interesting history, great depth and breadth, and good doses of both the art and science of winemaking, viticulture and the Napa Valley wine industry as well as many of the legends behind it. I recommend this course for anyone serious about Napa Valley wines and producers.

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