This morning, I took a test, an exam for the Wine Location Specialist (WLS) Certificate Program. The Center for Wine Origins recently initiated this program, which is also a collaboration with the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP). This is only the second time that the exam has been offered, and nineteen wine professionals passed the inaugural exam.
Sandy Block, Master of Wine and the VP of Beverage Operations at Legal Sea Foods, authored the program, writing its comprehensive study guide. The guide details the regions,vineyard management and wine making practices of Champagne and Porto, unique places where terroir is very important. Concern for terroir is a common theme throughout the study guide.
As a Wine Location Specialist, you are considered to be accredited by the CIVC and IVDP, so you can lead education seminars, tastings, and dinners specific to Champagne and Port. The Center of Wine Origins will support your efforts too, providing additional resources which can help in your educational endeavors.
Why did I take the course? First, it was a personal challenge, to learn more about these two important niche wines. Though Champagne and Port have their adherents, they still remain in many ways niche wines. And many people don't know much about them beyond the basics. My own knowledge of these regions was lacking in some respects, so it was a great opportunity to learn the greater depths of these wines. Second, I want to be able to share my knowledge, to teach others about these wines. I have fun running classes and tastings, and this certification will allow me to expand those topics which I feel comfortable teaching about. I get to share my wine passion with more and more people. Third, it will help my writing when I discuss Champagne and Port, allowing me a stronger foundation upon which I can build. In the end, the question was more, Why not take the course?
The test was not too tough, though there were some tricky questions. It might take up to a month to get the results, so until then, I will hope for the best.