Wine education proves popular in the Okanagan

Two years ago, Fine Vintage Ltd. launched its Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET®) wine school in the Okanagan Valley, offering internationally recognized qualifications in wine, in partnership with the University of British Columbia. Since then, WSET® courses have been taken by over 200 people, including a number of prominent winemakers, general managers, sales and marketing executives, and wine enthusiasts from all walks of life, says Okanagan instructor Rhys Pender.

"The mandate for Fine Vintage is to make our courses enjoyable, interactive, relaxed and unpretentious, whilst delivering an exceptionally high level of knowledge to students," says Pender. Because of this, he says, the courses are well-suited to both those in the wine business and those who love drinking wine and want to learn more about it.

"Rhys Pender is a great instructor," says James Cluer, one of Canada's leading wine experts and owner of Fine Vintage. "He has unmatched credentials from his pursuit of the Master of Wine designation and excellent experience as a judge for the Canadian Wine Awards and writer for a variety of wine publications."

One of the key elements contributing to the success of Fine Vintage Ltd. courses is the quality of the wine, says Pender. "We have always found that when it comes to wine courses, it is essential that top-quality wines are poured," he explains. "In each class we pour at least eight wines and it is not uncommon for some of them to cost over $100 per bottle. This ensures we get to taste some of the world’s benchmark wines."

The Fall schedule for courses has just been released with the Foundation Certificate and Intermediate Certificates offered in 2007 and the third-level Advanced Certificate scheduled to begin in February 2008. Course dates in Kelowna are:

Foundation course: four weeks
September 19 to October 10, 2007: Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Intermediate Course: nine weeks
October 17 to December 12, 2007: Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Foundation Course: one-day intensive
May 26, 2008: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Intermediate Course: three-day intensive
June 9 to 23, 2008: Mondays 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Advanced Course: 15 weeks
February 13 to May 21, 2008: Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

WSET® is the world leader in wine education, with qualifications offered in 38 countries. Students progress from the Foundation Certificate (a four-week or one-day intensive course), through the Intermediate Certificate (nine-week or three-day intensive course) and onto the Advanced Certificate (a 15-week course). WSET® is the world’s most recognized wine education body and Fine Vintage Ltd. now operates wine schools in Vancouver, Calgary and the Okanagan.

More information on the courses and registration is available online at or by phoning Fine Vintage Ltd.’s head office in Vancouver at 604-922-4915. Information is also available from the UBC Okanagan Community and Continuing Studies Office, or by phone at 250-807-8177.

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