Odyssey Wine Academy hopes to bring increased wine education to Sonoma County | Scn County

Discovering a gap in the local wine industry, Hildsburg resident Julie Rothberg decided to hold public personal wine education courses in Sonoma County, creating the Odyssey Wine Academy.

“When I moved here, I really wanted my hospitality team to get a level of certification and a level of wine knowledge that was more global in scope,” said Rothberg, who is president of Medlock Ames winery and moved to the area in 2018. “I wanted them to be able to compare Sonoma wines, wines produced in different (American wine-growing areas) here with wines from around the world. There was simply no WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) in Sonoma County – it was really the germ of the idea to start Odyssey.

The academy has three levels. The first level is a six-hour one-day session. It serves as an introduction to wine, what wine is, different wine styles and eight major grape varieties from around the world. This allows people to get a certificate that says they possess basic knowledge in wine.

The second and third levels delve not only into different grapes and regions of the world, but also use a systematic approach to tasting, which is a WSET methodology for assessing and tasting wines, as well as calibrating people’s tastes.

Rothberg said she focuses on people working in the hospitality industry, distilleries, restaurants and hotels who would like to talk about wine in more detail. She also wants people in the community to have a level of certification and knowledge in wine.

“I think there are people who come and visit Sonoma County and … would be interested in adding a part-time course and certification to their long weekend in the wine country,” she said.

Rothberg also wants to offer Spanish language courses through a scholarship fund for vineyard and cellar workers. As a way to provide more wine education for this population.

“It’s still in development. We now have several founding wineries contributing to the scholarship. The goal is to have teachers who are fluent in Spanish and certified to be able to teach, and then really apply to and promote it in the community so people can apply, ”Rothberg said.

She is keen to start Spanish classes after the harvest, given the requirements of growing grapes, she said it could be the best time of the year.

Rothberg hopes to have as many applicants as the scholarship can afford.

“I’d like to see it happen every year when we spend it. I think this is a great way to help link wine education to people who are so critical of the wine industry but have not had the opportunity to learn in detail, ”she said.

Francisco Lopez, co-owner of Bacchus Landing, where the Odyssey Wine Academy is based, said they have always wanted there to be an element of wine education in this space.

“We felt that an important element was missing here … when we got on our own WSET trip, we were surprised that we had to go all the way to Napa to find a class,” Lopez said.

“I thought it was easy to move forward. So we are glad that she decided to cooperate with us here. We just think this is another element that can be added to our team here on the site. That is why it has always been a part of our goal, ”he said.

For Lopez, wine education is something that people in Sonoma County will certainly be interested in.

“I think other than JC and Sonoma State, I don’t think there’s any other training wine other than short, winemaking at the winery, but it’s not that deep and extensive knowledge really. I think this is definitely something that will take root and grow here, ”he said.

Bacchus Landing has a variety of on-site wine tasting rooms that allow students to enjoy different areas simultaneously.

“We are constantly adding new classes depending on interests. So if people want to know more or have questions, I encourage them to ask, ”Rothberg said.


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