Looking to start a wine school? Let’s not mince words: It will be a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience.
With the rising popularity of fine wine, the demand for qualified professionals in the wine trade is snowballing. There are two avenues for earning credentials in our industry: A college degree or attending a wine school.
For many, a wine school is often the only available onramp into the wine trade. But that is only half the story. Wine schools also allow wine enthusiasts to pursue their passion while learning about the history, production, and appreciation of wine; here is our guide on how to start a wine school.
Conduct market research.
- Before starting a wine school, it is essential to conduct market research to determine the potential demand for your services locally. Research the wine industry, current wine schools, and their programs to understand better the regional competition and what the market is looking for. Consider your target audience, their needs and preferences, and what makes your wine school unique.
Develop a business plan.
- Once you have conducted your market research, it is time to develop a comprehensive business plan. This plan should include the goals and objectives of your wine school, the target market, a marketing strategy, and a financial plan. Your business plan should also outline the resources you will need, such as facilities, equipment, and staff.
Choose a location.
- The location of your wine school is an important factor in determining its success. Consider the accessibility of the location, its proximity to wine regions, and the availability of local resources such as vineyards, wineries, and wine shops. A wine school in a bustling city may have a larger potential customer base, but it may also be more expensive and less accessible for students in rural areas.
Determine the type of courses you will offer
- The courses you offer will depend on your target audience and the goals of your wine school. Consider offering a range of courses, from basic wine appreciation to advanced wine education for aspiring sommeliers. At the National Wine School, we offer wine courses ranging from Level One to Level Five, depending on the type of wine school we are working with. You may also consider offering online courses for students who cannot attend in-person classes.
Hire qualified instructors
- Your instructors are the backbone of your wine school. Hire experienced wine professionals with a passion for teaching and deep knowledge of wine. They should also have excellent communication skills and the ability to create an engaging and interactive learning environment. The National Wine School has a national training and certification program to ensure qualified candidates.
Choose your curriculum
- Your curriculum should reflect the goals and objectives of your wine school, as well as the needs and preferences of your target audience. Consider including topics such as wine history, wine production, wine tasting, and wine and food pairing. Your curriculum should also provide hands-on experience and practical applications, such as visits to vineyards, wineries, and wine shops.
Establish partnerships with local wine businesses.
- Partnering with local wine businesses, such as vineyards, wineries, and wine shops, can provide valuable resources for your students and help establish your wine school as a leader in the wine industry. These partnerships can also provide opportunities for your students to gain hands-on experience and make valuable connections in the industry.
Invest in technology and equipment.
- Technology can play an important role in the success of your wine school. Invest in quality wine-tasting equipment, such as wine glasses, wine decanters, and wine aerators. Consider using AI-powered sommelier programs to enhance the learning experience and provide more personalized, effective instruction.
Promote your wine school.
- Promote your wine school through various marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization. Attend wine industry events, participate in local wine festivals, and reach out to wine clubs and organizations to build your reputation and attract potential students.
- Consider obtaining accreditation from the National Wine School or other respected organizations in the wine industry. Accreditation can help establish credibility and provide opportunities for collaboration. The National Wine School offers substantial support for our member schools.