Is a wine tasting class the same as a wine education course? At SDSU, our wine courses combine wine tasting and wine education. It's a combination of lecture, reading, and tasting – a holistic approach to wine. If you're considering taking sommelier classes, our Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine program prepares you for the Sommelier exam and helps you train for success in wine-related occupations.
Enrolling in the Certificate
You may enroll in the Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine program at any time (even before registering for a course) by clicking on the Enroll Now button at the top of the page. Enrolling is free and offers many benefits. It secures the curriculum you’re required to complete (should the requirements change in the future), allows you to track your progress, and see upcoming courses when you log into your student portal. Enroll today!
Note: Enrolling in a program does not mean you are registered for courses. You still must register and pay for each course you wish to take.
Core Courses (all required)
Exploring Wine (prerequisite for all other courses, 18 hours)
Wine Making Behind the Scenes (nine hours)
Business Opportunities in the Wine Industry (15 hours)
Dynamic Wine and Food Pairing (six hours)
Elective Courses (two required)
The Character of Wine (nine hours)
Wine Flaws and Faults (six hours)
Wine List Creation (nine hours)
Sensory Evaluation (six hours)
Importing and Distribution (15 hours)
Beer and Wine: Service and Selling (six hours)
Marketing Wine (15 hours)
Vineyard Management (15 hours)
Intensive Courses (three required; nine hours each)
Organic and Biodynamic Wines
South American Wines
The Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine is designed to prepare participants for success in wine-related occupations. Through engaging discussion and directed tastings, The Business of Wine courses let you experience the world of wine twofold: wine education and business education. Building your wine knowledge gives you a competitive edge in your career. Must be 21 years of age to take these courses.
These comprehensive courses are geared for professionals and entrepreneurs in the wine, food, and hospitality fields who want to quickly expand their knowledge of wine topics. The certificate is directed to: restaurant owners and staff, winery employees, event planners, distribution and retail sales employees, wine bar owners and staff, anyone interested in moving into wine or hospitality careers, and wine enthusiasts who desire a professional level education.
For additional information please email email@example.com or call Kelly McEtchin at (619) 594-3946.
This course takes students on a journey around the world of wine. Topics covered include: history, grape varietals, viticulture, language and labeling, tastings; as well as an introduction to food and wine pairing, wine service and temperatures, and the wine-making process. This is an overview of the role and influence of wine in history and today's culture, a foundation for further wine education.
This course will give true insight into the way wine is made by visiting a local winery. Learn the "from grape to table" philosophy as well as manufacturing, and operations of the wine business. Basic knowledge of state regulations will be examined as well as discussion focusing on how climate, soil, and perception relate to profit.
This course presents an overview of the many possibilities in this exciting industry through exploring current wine market trends and an analysis of issues involved in wine business start-ups and potential strategies for success. Production, importing, distribution, and retail segments will be examined through a specific case study approach. Pricing, positioning, marketing, and operations components will be analyzed as they relate to the wine business model. You will learn how to develop a business plan specific to the wine industry. Guest speakers will share their real life experiences and perspectives.
April 23 - May 21
In this one-day course, you will taste your way through wines from around the world, exploring red, white, sparkling, and dessert varietals. You will taste and describe the wines separate from the food. Then the fun begins, adding samples of various foods and re-tasting the wines! Our goal is to teach students how to identify what works, what doesn't, and why.
April 28 - April 28
Learn how to create an elegant, diverse, and cost effective wine list. Topics include: how to determine and achieve a profitable wine cost percentage; the language of buying wine; how allocated wine can help and hinder your program; proper wine markups; inventory controls; how to converse with wine vendors, importers and suppliers; and writing a list that is appealing to the guest and fulfills the needs of the beverage manager.
Character can be defined as a wine with top-notch distinguishing qualities. Learn what is involved in creating the character of red, white, or blush wines. In this class, you will learn the basic mechanics of wine making, concerns winemakers face, and decisions they make during the process. This course will review in detail the differences involved in making quality wine varietals.
This course will provide you with the insight needed to identify, and accurately describe various wine flaws and faults. You will learn the basic mechanics of wine making and the results of wine making when carelessness and elements beyond the control of the winemaker produces an "off character" in wine, such as volatile acidity, TCA, and Brettanomyces. This course is ideal for restaurant managers, wait staff, winery employees, bartenders, and anyone interested in wine careers.
March 10 - March 10
Learn how to taste wine like a professional. This course will teach you how to objectively evaluate a wine by sight, smell and taste. You will learn the building blocks of blind tasting, or how to use sensory information to help determine the quality, origin, age, and varietal composition of a wine. The definitions for common tasting jargon will be provided so that you can effectively join the conversation.
Alongside the more pleasurable aspects of traveling to picturesque regions and tasting wine to make portfolio selections, wine importing and distribution involves a comprehensive understanding of warehousing, budgeting, time management, marketing, branding, packaging, pricing, licensing, regulations, shipping, and working with wholesalers and retailers. In a crowded field you have to represent the right wines. More importantly, you have to transcend the wine by developing relationships with your customers that not only make the sale, but can mean the difference between success and failure. This class will introduce students to the resources and real world advice to create a strong business model and a portfolio to match. This class focuses on laying the foundation for an import and distribution business that reflects today's trends and market conditions.
This course for the wine enthusiast covers the basics of viticulture and its importance to quality winemaking. Topics include viticulture history (global and local); vineyard considerations and management; exploration of wine grape varieties and clones; considerations of soils, climate, terroir and sunlight; and the final processing of the grapes as they become wine. The course concludes with a hands-on visit to a working vineyard/winery in Temecula, which includes a tasting, showcasing wine grapes at their finest.
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
In the fast-paced world of media and marketing, wineries must be current on the latest trends and adept at time-tested strategies for success. Following an overview of the intrinsic elements of marketing -- research, targeting, positioning, and branding -- we'll explore the major tenets of wine marketing including locating and working with distributors, portfolio placement, promotions/incentives, and pricing structures. We'll also look at how to build your customer base on-premise, off-premise, and direct-to-consumer using traditional -- public relations, websites, blogs, and emails -- as well as unique forms of marketing.
March 22 - April 19
Students will learn all aspects of selling both beer and wine in a restaurant. They will learn how to promote each to not only increase beverage sales but give the customer a greater experience which will lead to more positive reviews, and greater revenue for the restaurant as a whole. Students will learn how to cross-sell as well as upsell while enhancing the customer experience. They will also be provided with tools to learn beyond the course and further their knowledge for personal and/or professional gain in the craft beer and wine industries, while networking with like-minded individuals.
California has attained a prominent place on the international wine stage and has many interpretations of classic varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and a California original, Zinfandel. Through tasting of California produced wines and discussion, you will focus on the history, traditions, grapes, viti/viniculture practices, wine styles, and the future of California wines.
France has some of the world's most prestigious, complex, and commercially successful wine regions. Through extensive tastings, this course will cover the wines of Burgundy, Alsace, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux, Loire, and Champagne. You will learn about varietals, wine production by region, terroir, vineyard sites, and quality levels.
Italy is the second largest wine producing country in the world and is a key exporter to the United States. Knowledge of Italian wine is critical to the wine profession. Through extensive tastings, this course will cover the wines of Piemont and Tuscany. You will learn about varietals, wine production by region, terroir, vineyard sites, and quality levels.
May 2 - May 16
Spain has more land planted with grapes than any wine growing country in the world and is ranked 3rd in global wine production. Spain has a lot to offer the world of wine. There is something for everyone in this amazing wine rich country. Class tastings will sample growing regions that are well established (Rioja) and up and coming regions. You will learn about Spain’s wine history, varietals, wine production by region, terroir, vineyard sites, and quality levels.
This intensive course is designed to provide you with the foundation of the French Burgundy wine industry. At the end of the course, you will have a more in depth knowledge of the history of Burgundy wines, a greater understanding of the major wine communes of Burgundy and the styles produced in these regions as well as the producers in these areas.
Explore the World of Sweet Wines produced globally. You will delve into different styles from both old world and new world countries. You will also explore different styles such as, Vin de Liqueur (VDL), Vin Doux Naturels (VDN), Fortified, Late Harvest, Botrytis, Ice, and Solera. For each style you will learn the methods of production, and how to pair these wines with desserts, cheeses and even savory foods.
The United States wine market has witnessed a huge increase in South American wine imports over the last 20 years. This course will cover the history, geographic locations, climate, soils, wine laws, grape varieties, and important wine producing regions of South America. Students will taste and focus intensively on the wines of Chile and Argentina with a brief introduction to Brazil, Uruguay, and Peru.
April 3 - April 17
Australian wine history dates back over 200 years, and its wine regions span a vast area with amazing diversity in climate, soils, winemaking and wine styles. Explore in detail, why and how Australian exports to the U.S. have undergone an enormous evolution in the past 30 years. Australia is poised on the cusp of an exciting reemergence, redefined beyond warm climates and generic styles. Students learn about the origins of Australia's wine industry, what influenced wines then and what influences them today.
The Austrian and German class will showcase an understanding of wines and the regions of The Mosel, Nahe, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Pflaz regions of Germany. For Austria the focus will be on Niederosteriech. There will be historical understanding of the area, the people that lived there and why they do what they do so well.
Learn about what makes sparkling wine ... sparkle. From production techniques, major grape varietals, sweetness styles and benchmark wine regions, we will traverse the globe and delve into much more than Champagne. This is a class not to be missed.
This intensive course is designed to provide you with the basics of organic, biodynamic, natural and sustainable winemaking. At the end of the course you will have a stronger knowledge of the benefits that these winemaking styles can bring to the producer, the consumer and the environment and also of the position of these wines in the current market.
March 6 - March 20
A reduced fee for SDSU alumni is available. Please call the CES registration office at (619) 594-5152 to register using the SDSU alumni discount. Double discounts or retroactive discounts are not allowed.
All of the classes expanded my knowledge of wine and helped me get to where I am now. The certificate program instructors work in the business and are very knowledgeable. They are very willing to answer questions. They make sure everything is clear.
— Eddie Zavestoski
Two of the best things about the wine classes are the intimacy and the relaxed nature of the instructors. You can feel their passion and knowledge. This passion spurred me to take more classes, and learn more about wine. Every class was a surprise and every glass was a surprise. I realized how good wine could be with knowledge; how uniform it is. I also learned that wine people are cool.
— Michael Cheatham
One of the best most incredibly useful classes I have ever taken.
— Michael Bulmey
The teachers have a lot of knowledge in the business. The exhibitors they had in every class were perfect for the topic.
— Jose Espinoza
Business of Wine Advisory Board
- Jesse Rodriguez, AIWS, M.Ed., sommelier, CWE, director of wine, Montage Palmetto Bluff
- Lisa Lipton, past national chair, American Institute of Food & Wine
- Michael A. Cheatham, CSW, CSS, WLS, CSWE, independent wine educator and consultant
- Linda Kissam, owner, Kissam Consulting
- William Byxbee, dean emeritus, SDSU College of Extended Studies
- Carl Winston, director, SDSU’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
- Peggy Evans, executive director, Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association
- Lisa Redwine, advanced sommelier, sales rep, Regal Wine Co.
- Gus Vizgirda, winemaker, Wilson Creek Winery
- Deborah Lazear, CSW, owner, Wine and Food: Uncorked
- Ken Mills, CEO/president, Wine Steals
SDSU's College of Extended Studies would like to express special thanks to all Business of Wine guest speakers and to the companies listed here for contributing to the program's success.
Wilson Creek Winery
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Orfila Vineyards and Winery
San Diego City Beat
SDSU Research Foundation Program