The Certificate can be beneficial in a variety of ways - depending on the circumstances and goals of the particular participant. The most obvious benefit is to lawyers/accountants/financial planners who want to start attracting wine industry clients, as this provides them with the necessary expertise and a credential to advertise as they market themselves. After numerous focus groups, we also discovered that another group that will benefit are the variety of people seeking business and leadership roles in the wine industry who need more expertise (outside of the actual wine-making or sommelier skills) and the Certificate credential to advance their careers. The Certificate is also beneficial to any younger winemaker who is currently an employee at a winery or crush facility hoping to someday start their own winery. This will help to get them on that path and help them to understand the types of outside business and legal consultants they might want to hire as they start to plan their own business. Lastly, we have found that some senior professionals have been seeking out our Certificate as they transition to part-time consulting businesses related to the alcohol industry (or in some cases, the related cannabis industry).
All Instructors have been asked to make their courses accessible to participants of varied backgrounds and levels of wine expertise. Depending on your own personal background, you may find some classes easier or harder than others. For example, the Wine Tasting 101 class is likely to be relatively easy for someone who is already a sommelier (but we hope it will still be entertaining!). The Constitutional Underpinnings of the Wine Industry course might be more challenging for that same person. The Director of the GU Wine Institute will always be available to help if you encounter anything that you’d like explained in more detail.
All of the courses for the Certificate program are online and available for you to complete at your own pace – immediately after you are enrolled. They are structured more like continuing education courses so each one has maybe 45 minutes to 2 hours of lecture content (that is often broken into smaller video segments). Each class also includes required background readings and a final, graded assessment to test your understanding of the readings and lectures. The online coursework could be completed within a single semester while working a full-time job if you’d like to complete the Certificate as quickly as possible. If you would like to move through the material at a more leisurely pace, then you can take up to 3 semesters to complete all of the requirements.
You could complete all of the lectures, background readings, and assessments within a single semester if you wanted. You have three semesters to complete all of the course requirements in order to allow you time to attend your preferred in-person Immersion Event (a requirement of the program). Typically, there will be one Immersion Event per semester, and they will take place at different wineries across the country.
An Immersion Event is an in-person event for Certificate participants that will be take place at the location of that event’s winery host. The host will offer tours of their facility and presentations by their own winemakers. Those presentations will be complemented by educational presentations that will vary depending on the location and on the “hot issues” facing the industry at that time.
Immersion Events are an excellent opportunity to network with your fellow Certificate participants, the Instructors, and other wine experts. Additionally, participants can chat with one another using the online coursework platform, and we recently hosted a virtual wine tasting social event just for participants and program administrators.