The European Wine Academy is an International Wine School which offers wine education globally, using (mostly) e-learning (distance education) – we believe that we were the first non-university educational institution to offer wine education via e-learning in 2004/5!). Its name refers to its European wine ancestry.
The wine market has become completely
international, with an increased demand for wine knowledge and wine education. EWA was formed in 2004 to help structure such wine education but focused mainly on providing its courses via e-learning (distance education).
Our wine-teaching philosophy and goals
The goal of EWA is essentially the promotion of the study of the following core topics in wine education:
- general wine knowledge
- wine tasting and evaluation
- sommeliership and hospitality management
- wine production, and
- wine business- and marketing,via higher, vocational and professional education.
We want our students to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the grape, its viticulture, and vinification, wine, and spirits in all its guises, as well as the tasting and serving of wine; and all of this at a fairly high academic standard. It is our firm conviction that if we provide a course of an unacceptably low academic and professional standard we would only be producing inferior and badly-prepared students, just the opposite of what we want: to provide an international education and training which will empower students and even provide them with excellent career possibilities.
It may not seem important, but we do believe it is right that we maintain our academic and commercial independence and objectivity, we are therefore not sponsored by any beverage corporation, wine company, food conglomerate, government, wine authority, and banking or media group, by no one.
The founders of EWA agreed that we should avoid the following issues:
- that most wine courses are too amateurishly presented,
- even though experienced professionals are sometimes used in those courses, the tutors
are for the most part book-educated wine hobbyists,
- the current theoretical and academic standard of professional wine courses is generally too low,
- longer wine courses have to ensure that a student also received some practical exposure and experience,
- there was too little on offer for existing or aspiring Wine Business Professionals and Managers.
It is our philosophy, and one of the most important foundations of EWA, as reflected in its longer courses, that our wine courses are holistic, that is, it FIRST provides students with a general background into the study of wine (in the form of our ‘Essentials‘ module) and then that general knowledge is applied to a specific field or speciality, e.g. Wine Marketing or Wine Production.
Additionally, wine education should not only be holistic but also mixed in with some practical exposure (where possible), this we achieve by including the
following into our courses:
- compulsory wine tasting exercises (which you do yourself, at
- on-site training (working in a local wine-related wine business), and
- non-compulsory practicums,
Types of wine courses
- We provide serious (in the sense of academically sound) wine education and training which is based on a high, modern standard, that can give new learners, those persons wanting to start out on a new pathway of wine knowledge, and more advanced wine enthusiasts, a sound basis of wine knowledge, in any of the following directions: Wine Tasting, Sommeliership and Hospitality Management, General Wine Professional, Viticulture and Wine Production, as well as Wine Marketing and Business.
- Consequently, EWA offers a wide range of wine courses such as: Introduction to Wine, Essentials of Wine, Wine Tasting, Wine Regions, Sommeliership & Restaurant Management, Wine Marketing & Business, Viticulture, Oenology and Wine Production – and all at different academic levels, starting from the 10 lecture ‘Introduction to Wine’ to our 120 lecture ‘Associate Degree in Viticulture, Wine Production & Business’, all in e-learning version. We also offer a blended learning (see explanation below) course: ‘Foundations of Wine Certificate’ (a blended learning course, with a face-to-face (f2f) module spread over 5 full days)
- Our courses are operated on and available to our students on our e-learning platform;(http://www.ewaplatform.org/), which is open and available 24/7, which means that you can access your course, download your lectures and do your assignments at any time of the day that is convenient to you. This e-learning platform is password double-encrypted and it employs the very latest, yet simple to use, technologies thus ensuring a dynamic learning environment. Students do not have to download any specific software; all that is required is an internet connection. Students receive their lectures from the platform; read the latest news and relevant articles, and upload their assignments there as well.The lectures are offered at the rate of 1 lecture per week, and each lecture contains certain compulsory assignments or quizzes, which are uploaded by you via the e-Learning platform. So, simply put: once you have your username and password you go to the platform, there you will see that you have been placed within a “class” or group and in that class you go to the latest lecture and its assignment, download it, read and study the material in that lecture, read further about the topic in any textbook you may have, further research it on the internet, look at any relevant video clips on YouTube (and in the ‘Video Room’ of the platform), then look at the questions in the assignment, prepare your assignment and upload it onto the platform so that your tutor can read and grade it, and give you any comments which she/he feels may help you.
- The same procedure is used in the compulsory wine tasting exercises which form part of every course.
- Our lectures are detailed, with (when required) technical and generally academic details, illustrations, and tables. There are also video clips and wine tasting exercises etc. also available, but in a separate section on the platform, not embedded into your lectures. We prefer offering our e-learning courses in a more sober manner which is not disturbing to our students; you will not be bothered every 10 seconds with pop-ups and the like. However, even serious wine education should always be an enjoyable experience!
- The courses are mostly based on leading textbook (s) in the relevant field of study, blended with relevant wine articles and internet sources, and, where considered relevant, comments and contributions by the course designer, so that the particular course is a good combination of academic and practical content, blended with wine articles and internet sources to create an up-to-date and informative lecture.
- Our courses easily achieve the required professional and academic standard, but the hard work and dedication have to come from the student- it is, therefore, important that you realise that to get the full benefit from the course you will have to work on it, preferably every week! Our courses are aimed at well-motivated, serious and disciplined adults.
- Please note though that there is a level for anyone, and that anyone may follow these courses, your reason for doing so is not as important to us as your desire to gain the knowledge!
- Because we serve students from all parts of the globe, and of different backgrounds and levels of wine knowledge and education, it became obvious to us that we would have to provide a wide choice of wine courses to meet the needs of those students and such a changing wine industry. This is why we have learnt to be flexible, and why you will notice that we update the types and number of courses we offer, from time to time.
- Our courses are designed by experienced wine professionals
who take all of the above requirements into account. Parts of our courses are almost of a university level, but most are set at an academic level just below that – also because we hold practical experience to be equally important (almost all courses have some practical aspects such as wine tasting exercises and on-site training at a wine business near you- see later).
If you are not yet sure which course to register for we can offer some suggestions, but we usually ask you some important questions first:
- firstly, what is your existing level of wine knowledge or experience,
- secondly, what do you hope to achieve with such a wine education: do you want to do this course for hobby purposes or for professional purposes, (even if it is to be used at a later stage), and,
- thirdly, which specific direction interests you: general wine expertise, sommeliership and hospitality management, wine business management, wine marketing or viticulture and wine making/oenology?
Clearly, the answers to these questions will help us to give you the best advice and guidance regarding the right course for you. It does also depend on how much wine experience or qualifications you already have, as some of the courses require you to have some pre-existing wine knowledge or qualification. So your answer to the above questions will hopefully enable us to suggest the correct course for you.
Mission & History
- The basis of EWA was formed in the late 1990’s in Europe and the UK, when EWA’s founder started providing standard wine education (f2f), but EWA was formalized in late 2004 when it also started offering wine courses via blended and e-learning, to students of the Commonwealth Academy, and Blake Hall College, in London.
- As EWA essentially operates via the internet, its physical location is not that relevant, but we selected Belgium, which is at the heart of Europe, with Brussels being the effective capital of the EU, as the ideal location for a European wine school. Also ideal, not only because it is centrally located, but more importantly because Belgium is not considered as a serious wine producing region, it is a neutral region and is therefore not seen as competition by any of the major wine-producing countries of Europe. In this way, we can rely on the co-operation of all European wine-related institutions and estates.
Teaching method we use
- All our courses have the same standard of excellence, they differ only in the method in which they are delivered and in the differing motivation of students: the student following our e-learning courses will do so for very specific reasons: highly motivated students who cannot, (usually because of their geographical location), follow a course in a regular classroom environment because of their work schedules, family needs or other reasons.
- The academic level of our courses is that of a tertiary standard, about equal to that of a College/Polytechnic/Technicon/Hoge Schule, but not as high as university level – and then mostly only because we cannot cover the same amount of material as a full-time Bachelors course. The lectures are however often equal to that of a university academic level.
- E-learning (also known as Distance Education) is the main form of education we use, particularly for the longer courses. However, our courses are not self-paced; depending on numbers students are placed into groups and follow a properly structured and managed program of receiving lectures regularly, weekly, and handing in assignments regularly, (usually weekly). Courses that are entirely self-paced, i.e. with no structure place an almost impossible burden of total self-discipline on students!
- Who should take e-learning courses and how does it work?:
If you like the idea of being in control of your own learning and have a real interest in the topics or course you have selected, then yes. If you just see it as a way of getting out of going to regular face-to-face classes, then no. It’s a very rewarding way to learn but
you need to be well-organised and prepared to take responsibility for your own learning. You should be prepared to spend about 1 to 2 hours per week on doing assignments. Our tutors realise that there may be times when you need a bit of extra encouragement and support. They are there to help you as much as they can.
No European student visas
Please note that students wishing to follow one of our courses will not be required to obtain an EU student visa, nor will registering as an EWA student entitle a student to such a student via, as the courses are meant to be followed in that student’s own country.
In order to attend one of our f2f Foundation courses, or any practicums in Europe, a student will not require a student visa, only a tourist visa as such practical courses are only for a number of days.
Personal contact with us via Skype
We realise that it is sometimes difficult for students in an e-learning environment if they do not have immediate access to us to discuss a particular problem. Of course, they can, and mostly do, use emails to achieve this, and it is a system which functions well, but sometimes they also need personal face-to-face contact. This is why we have
instituted a system whereby students can make such personal contact with a senior person at EWA using Skype and a good Web Cam. The student would first email us requesting a face-to-face Skype discussion and EWA will then arrange a specific date and time for a discussion of the problem. Bear in mind that you should have a good Webcam, and be a registered Skype user, and have a fast Internet connection so that the video quality is acceptable. However, as this free service takes up a lot of personal time we hope you understand that we have to impose a few restrictions:
- It is only available to our registered students.
- It is not meant for trivial questions or matters – those can be dealt with via email. Students must ordinarily first try to sort out the problem via email before requesting an f2f Skype discussion.
- In this way, we hope to remove one of the biggest complaints against e-learning or on-line courses: a lack of personal contact between student and school.
Learning Wine Tasting – long distance!
- One of the initial difficulties which e-Learning students face is that when it comes to learning how to taste wine they would like to have personal guidance and advice on various aspects of wine tasting, in particular, the relevant technique. Because we have students in most parts of the world, and as it is not always possible to arrange for face-to-face workshops in their region, such isolated students often feel a bit left out. The way in which we overcome the problem of ‘long distance’ tasting – (where the student has no or little Tasting & Evaluation experience), is as follows: When you start the course you can have 1 or 2 personal guided tasting sessions (or a follow-up session
during the course, if you’d like to clarify a specific tasting issue) with one of our tutors, via Skype, who will assist you in any problems you might have in wine tasting. This will not necessarily be for specific wines, but certainly for guidance in the technique of wine tasting.
- Each course has a number of wine tasting exercises, with a list of wines which have to be tasted during the course, which will give the student the necessary wine tasting experience.
- We have a special section on the platform, called the ‘Tasting Room’, where we have a detailed Tasting Guide (for wines, fortified wines, sparkling wines and spirits), which shows students how to taste and evaluate wines, sparkling wines, as well as spirits. In this ‘Tasting Room’, there are also appropriate Tasting Sheets, (one for wine, for sparkling wines and spirits) which you use (by using the Guide and these Tasting Sheets together), to learn exactly how to evaluate and taste wine.
- EWA has been using a professionally produced DVD called: “Tasting- grapes & scapes”. It covers, in 2 discs, (more than 5 hours long) various wine topics, as well as wine tasting tuition; there is an introduction to various wine regions and other very helpful wine information. This excellent DVD, (in English, German, French, Spanish & Italian) is currently available directly from us, but there is only a limited number available. The normal retail cost is around €30 per set but we are able to supply it at a student price of €20 per set.
- Additionally, in a separate section of the platform, called the ‘Video Room’, we have many video clips on various wine topics, including wine evaluation and tasting, and how it should be done properly which will further assist students in learning how to taste wine. However, the best way still to learn how to taste wine is to TASTE, TASTE, TASTE!
EWA branded Sommelier (professional corkscrew)
Over the years we have come across many types of corkscrews and though there are more expensive ones, we saw that many wine estates and sommeliers prefer using the products made by the Patrick company in Italy. We, therefore, asked them to provide us with a suitable sommelier that could be used by students for many years, and we had it branded with our EWA logo. It is a double-hinged professional sommelier (Waiter’s Friend), the Murano version, with a patented non-slip soft rubber contour with an anti-adherent Teflon spiral making the removal of the cork easier. The stainless steel blade can be easily opened single handed to remove the foil.
The exclusive soft-pushing double lever mechanism is made of two independent and distinct levers which work with an automatically controlled movement. The first support is designed to suit any type of bottle. The cost is €15. Shipping costs will depend on whether the student also orders the Wine DVD or not, (when it will be cheaper).
Accreditation, memberships & commitment to excellence
- We actively support and apply the EU’s Principles on E-learning.
- It is a well-known fact that wine education, as a general academic study direction, does not have the long historical connections to universities that studies such as law or medicine enjoy, (nowadays, of course, viticulture and oenology are offered at certain universities). This is particularly so in the EU. In some countries, a more casual attitude and approach prevails, with the result that one comes across many so-called ‘universities’ offering degrees and diploma with no or little academic value or prestige.
- Even the international leader in general wine education, the WSET, is not a university, and like most wine education institutions and academies, it too has to rely on a combination of a good reputation, coupled with accreditation from relevant professional control bodies and governments to convince its potential students of the academic and professional standard of its courses and training programs. The same also applies to EWA, we too would have preferred the ‘prestige’ of being a university but we accept that, as this is not, for now, a practical possibility in Europe, we have to primarily provide courses of excellence and then take reasonable steps to ensure that we reach and maintain a high academic and professional level.
- It is for these reasons then that, over the course of our existence, we have formed associations with other wine educating institutions and universities, and used well-regarded course advisers and tutors, but EWA (through its Principal) has also, at various times been a member or affiliated with the following institutions or professional bodies that oversee standards of e-learning and wine education: The European Association for Distance Learning, Association of British Correspondence Colleges, The Society of Wine Educators in the United States of America, International Council for Open and Distance Education, European Association for International Education, European Council for Business Education and the British Association for Open Learning. These Institutions lay down strict requirements for membership thus ensuring that students receive a quality education. In most cases, EWA in fact usually exceeded the requirements and standards that were normally required of members of the above institutions.
- As further proof of EWA’s commitment to professionalism and excellence, and to ensure that the administration and daily operations of EWA was being done at a high level, we met the standard of the highly regarded international award of quality: “ISO 9001”, and received this in October 2005, following a strenuous and lengthy investigation by the ISO’s auditors- however as EWA is a relatively small school, and considering the high costs of maintaining this requirement (costs which would eventually have to be borne by students through higher course fees) EWA felt that such cost increases are not warranted by continuing the expensive ISO 9001 registration.
Why are our courses different from those of our competitors?
What sets us apart from most other (non-university) educational institutions offering wine courses is:
- a good academic standard in our course contents resulting in a better prepared, trained and employable student.
- flexibility and friendliness using our one-on-one interactive Skype/webcam we offer personal contact with EWA and its tutors, and also guided wine tasting training sessions, students can now see and hear, in real time, how to taste wine properly!
- by using our detailed Wine Tasting Guide, plus matching Wine Tasting & Analysis Sheets (also for Sparkling wines and Spirits) students learn how to analyse and taste wine analytically and in a professional manner.
- because of the nature of e-learning start dates for courses are flexible, so you can start at any time,
- additionally we have a few hundred video clips in our Video Room which can assist students on all important topics such as wine tasting, viticulture, oenology, the major wine regions, sommeliership and wine marketing & business.
- international students who often cannot get access to such sophisticated wine and spirits courses, due to geographical reasons, can now also follow high-quality wine courses
- we want all our students to obtain as much practical, hands-on experience of and exposure to the wine industry. This is achieved by:
- getting students to do compulsory wine tasting exercises (each course has a set number of wines the student has to taste);
- asking students to attend limited on-site training at a local wine business, shop or winery of their choice.
- also, in some courses, by attending non-compulsory practicums and workshops, (any of our students may join us on a non-compulsory tutored Field Trip to a wine region, to get some hands-on, practical exposure to grapes, viticulture, wine making or other related practical experience. These are optional trips).
- non-compulsory visit to a Wine Fair, like the London Wine Fair, ProWein, the Cape Fair or Vinexpo in Bordeaux
- non-compulsory visits to local wineries and vineyards.
In conclusion, if you are really interested in pursuing a serious career in wine, wine tasting, sommeliership, viticulture, wine business & marketing as well as wine production, but you do not have the time to attend classes full, or part-time, click on the link: “Courses” to select the one that best fits your needs.