California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) is a credentialed course offered by the San Francisco Wine School. Designed for professionals and enthusiasts alike, CWAS is the first and only formal credential relating to California wines. It has the support of the California Wine Institute (the voice of the California wine industry) as well as various grower associations.
The online course takes nine weeks starting March 31. Orientation begins March 24, 2014 and must be completed in order to start the program on the 31st. Each week runs from Sunday through to midnight the following Saturday and while you can work at your own pace, each week’s assignment must be completed in the weekly timeframe in order to proceed to the next one.
Because it is a serious program, in order to be credentialed there is an exam that must be taken between June 2 and 8.
The number of participants is usually between 18 and 24 with 30 being the maximum. The group is just the right size to encourage everyone’s participation in lively discussions.
Each week you will be required to taste wines from a specific AVA or AVAs so be prepared to spend a few bucks, although you don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive example. In fact, you can buy a wine by the glass or half bottle, or even better, get a friend to join you which will split the expense of the wines as well as reward you with savings of $100 each on registration fees. It’s always more fun to taste with one or more people. Knowing that not all wines are available everywhere, alternatives are suggested.
The course includes ongoing Q&A sessions with a master sommelier, lectures, and discussion in a virtual classroom. It is extremely lively and interactive.
Master Sommelier David Glancy, the CEO and founder of the San Francisco Wine School, created the CWAS program to help ensure the next generation of wine experts is properly versed in the nuances of California wine. Both Italy and France have internationally recognized certification programs. It is vital to the diverse California wine industry to educate its advocates about the range of microclimates, grape varieties and wine styles.