Best school for WSET Diploma in SF/Napa

I want to begin courses for my WSET Diploma this fall, and wondering if anyone can share their experiences with the Napa Valley Wine Academy, San Francisco Wine School, or if there's another provider I should be aware of. Cost, quality of education, location, etc are all important concerns. Also wondering if online study versus in-person is something I should consider. Thank you in advance for your advice! 

  • Hi Jennifer, I can share that I have been studying with Grape Experience (https://www.grapeexperience.com) in San Francisco and have been very pleased with the quality of instruction (Adam has both won, and been recently nominated again as a top educator for WSET) and location (either in downtown SF or at the SF Wine School). Cost comparisons I can't comment on as I didn't consider Napa Valley Wine Academy, and SF Wine School works with Grape Experience for WSET courses rather than delivering separately. As for the question of in-person vs. online, I like in person for the opportunity to break down theory questions with instructors! Hope that helps.

  • Hi Jennifer,

    I went through the Napa Valley Wine Academy and have no complaints about it. Its right off the freeway, and not in some obscure location with a Napa address. I did the online instruction for both levels 2&3. For me, level 2 online was fine as the material is not very in depth. I struggled studying on my own doing the online for level 3 when it came to the short answer questions. There is really not a whole lot of practice quizzes/questions out there in addition to the workbook they give you, which makes it difficult to prepare solo (at least for me). I was however lucky enough to meet one of the instructors who allowed me to sit-in on one of the regular in-person lectures while I was studying online. I found in that particular lesson I came out with a better understanding of how to format your answer, and what graders are looking for when awarding points. The biggest take-away for me in regards to that was to be sure you fully explain your answer, you can't assume the grader has base knowledge to work off of. i.e. if there is a question about red burgundy, be sure to mention it's Pinot Noir. Hope this helps you and anyone else!

  • Hi Jennifer,

    I am in complete agreement with Jennifer Burgess. Grape Experience’s Diploma instruction under Adam Chase and other WSET professionals, including MWs and MW candidates, has been informative, thought-provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable. Interacting in a group environment and having the ability to ask questions face-to-face are things you simply cannot get online. Like Kevin Baker, the in-person classes have helped me better understand how to think about the questions being asked and formulate complete responses.

    Grape Experience has not required full program payment up front, and teaching and testing locations in SF and at SFWS have available parking and are well-maintained. I am not sure I would have continued my wine education journey onto Diploma, had it not been for my Grape Experience WSET Level 2 and 3 classes at San Francisco Wine School with Adam and his team of inspiring educators.

  • Hi Jennifer, I can highly recommend the Napa Valley Wine Academy for your WSET Level 4 Diploma program as a current Diploma student. The whole team at the Academy is really helpful and supportive and knowledgeable. They are located near downtown Napa with free parking around the building, and they are open 7 days a week. 

    Most instructors are the same at the Napa Valley Wine Academy and at Grape Experience, MW or Master of Wine candidates. Most of the office staff either have finished the Diploma or are in the progress. Everybody is well connected in the Valley, and experts are coming into the classes to talk about specific topics like a geologist did a soil seminar or a yeast scientist talked about fermentation. Several webinars for each Unit was provided on how to study and exam strategy.

    The size of the class is limited to 15 students, which is a comfortable size. They are pretty flexible for the payment plan, you can pay the whole Diploma upfront or pay Unit by Unit. I liked the fact that I had the option to switch from online to in-person class and even combine the two option. Personally I prefer the in-person class, as you not only learn from the qualified instructors, but also the interaction with co-students was an important part on my journey. 

    Since the Napa Valley Wine Academy is not only offering the Diploma program, we had access to several industry events/seminars/tasting like the Sherry Certification, the Rioja Master Class, tasting with the Institute Master of Wine, tasting with Wines of Argentina. 

    Since it is a big money and time commitment, I would take the opportunity and go and meet the team at the Napa Valley Wine Academy in Napa. They are more than happy to talk to you in-person.

    I hope that was helpful.

  • Jennifer, 

    I'm already seeing it a lot on here--but I"m currently in the Diploma program with Grape Experience and have done my L3 with them as well. It's an amazing program and I have loved every second. I highly encourage it! 

  • Hello, Jennifer!  I remember struggling with a similar question regarding beginning my Diploma studies (I live in San Diego). I am very familiar with Napa Valley Wine Academy as I took my WSET 3 as well as American Wine Expert courses there. The quality of the education and the caliber of the staff at NVWA is top notch (they were the 2016 WSET Global Wine Educator of the Year as well). Because of the experiences at NVWA, I chose to enroll in their "intensive" Diploma program versus driving to classes in Orange County weekly (I am currently enrolled). I would highly recommend the school and program to you and/or anyone looking for further their wine education! I hope this helps.  And please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly (rfisher@winescholarguild.org) if you have any other questions.

  • Hi Jennifer,
    How exciting! The WSET Diploma program is fantastic and has been instrumental in shaping so many wine careers. Taking time to research the different providers is so smart.

    My team and I are happy to help answer any questions you might have about the Diploma program we offer. We have created a resource that may help you in choosing the right school for your studies. Here is the link 

    We also have a dedicated student success team that can assist you with selecting the right mode of study, be it online or in-person.  Our team, of course, would also be happy to help answer any Diploma related questions that you may have.

    Good luck with your research and we are hoping that we are lucky enough to have you join us as a Diploma student.

    All the best,

    Christian

    855-513-9738

  • I study with Grape Experience, though I'm located in Chicago.

    When I can, I find doing both the in-person and online classes the best.  Being able to taste and calibrate with the instructor is invaluable, as well as the insight gained from the instructors.  

    However, I also love the format of the online courses.  They are self-study primary, but the way they are broken down by subject week by week, and the feedback on the work I put in from (usually) a MW is very helpful in keeping me on track and motivated up to the exam period.  I worry that if I did just the in person and not the online, after the in-person course was done I would struggle to stay rigorously on track in my studies.  

  • Adam Chase with Grape Experience is the best.