FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY STUDY WITH GRAPE EXPERIENCE?
Grape Experience was established in 2005 as a professional educator in wine and spirits. We were the first organization in Northern California given the prestigious honor of providing the highest WSET Level, the Level 4 Diploma certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the foremost international body in the field of wines and spirits education.
Our organization is globally respected and proud of its world-class faculty of industry leaders. Grape Experience and its director, Adam Chase, has been nominated 4 times in the last 9 years for WSET Educator of the Year — 2009, 2012 (won that year), 2017 and 2018. This is a global nomination where only 6-8 educators are nominated from over 750 candidates.
More reasons to study with us:
- Flexible scheduling to meet the needs for working professionals
- Highest-level course and certification offerings nationally
- A laser focus on offering the highest quality education to maximize student success
- Classroom courses in the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Boston region, and online, with varying schedules and formats (including weekend & evening programs)
- A successful track record of offering WSET Diploma and other WSET wine, spirits and sake courses enables our students to build expertise confidence and depth of knowledge to enable greater success
- Ideal for those looking to further their education for trade/professional goals including servers, sommeliers, distributors, retailers, winemakers, marketers, writers, journalists and suppliers
- The outcomes of our training programs increase opportunities for employment, builds better customer relationships and respect among peers
- Enthusiasts get the same training as professionals
- Oldest, most experienced WSET provider on the West Coast
HOW CAN WINE EDUCATION HELP ME?
For those looking for an advanced career in wine and spirits production, sales, marketing or hospitality, a WSET wine certification brings more attention to your resume or potential job promotion. Many find that the increased expertise, knowledge, vocabulary and confidence they receive helps build stronger relationships with clients, increasing sales, repeat business and tips.
Having a sophisticated understanding of wine can help you build a more relaxed, confident, impressive rapport with clients, friends or potential business partners. Having a formal education leads to more enjoyment of what you love.
WHERE SHOULD I BEGIN?
For students who have the most basic knowledge of wine such as the major grape types, or can articulate favorite varieties, we recommend starting with the Level 2 course. Level 1 is for those with almost no knowledge about wine. Level 2 offers more depth into a range of subject.
HOW ARE YOUR CLASSES DIFFERENT FROM A WINE SHOP’S OR ADULT LEARNING PROGRAM?
Our classes are part of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) global curriculum. WSET, having a decades-long legacy of educating professionals and the public about wines and spirits, is known for developing experts and building confidence. Our classes employ the WSET approach, offering more in-depth exploration of topics like grape varieties, winemaking regions, the business of wine, and how to systematically taste it. WSET certification carries major prestige internationally. A one-off course at your local shop can help spark a passion for wine, but Grape Experience can help you acquire a higher quality and level of experience achieved through a sustained engagement.
Registration & Course FAQs
WHEN SHOULD I REGISTER?
CAN I GET A REFUND?
For most classroom courses, no refunds will be given once a course begins. For online and diploma courses, no refunds will be given under any circumstances.
SHOULD I ARRANGE TO GO HOME WITH A DESIGNATED DRIVER?
Our curriculum is designed to promote responsible drinking at every level, and we design our tastings accordingly. We request that you spit rather than swallow wine, sake or spirits in class – the method used by professionals. Of course, if you feel you are unable to drive, we will gladly arrange transportation for you.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IN-PERSON AND ONLINE COURSES?
The main difference in course formats is scheduling. In each case, students will cover the same material and earn the same credential. Some students prefer the traditional classroom setting, while others appreciate the flexibility of studying remotely. We recommend thinking about what’s best for your learning style and personal schedule. Most of our online courses do include at least one in-person meeting in either the San Francisco Bay or Greater Boston areas.
ARE YOU ABLE TO MAKE SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS?
Yes, all of our classes are taught in ADA-accessible facilities. If you require additional accommodations, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will do our best to make special arrangements.
DO YOU OFFER PACKAGES FOR OUT-OF-TOWN STUDY?
We regularly have students travel from all over North America (and the world) to take our courses, especially our unique Level 4 Diploma. We do not offer specific packages for those traveling from out of town, but are happy to share recommendations for travel and accommodations with you.
DO I NEED TO HAVE MY OFFICIAL PASS FOR LEVEL 3 TO START DIPLOMA?
Yes, WSET will not let you enroll in Diploma until you have officially received your pass grade for the Level 3 Course. If there is an in-person Diploma D1 course offered you may be able to attend those classes if you have taken the Level 3 exam and are awaiting your exam grade. You may not sign up for the online program, however, until you have officially passed Level 3.
CAN I START WITH A UNIT OTHER THAN UNIT 1 AND 2?
No, the WSET mandates that you must first sit the Unit 2 exam before doing any other Diploma Unit exam or paper—including Unit 1. That may sound odd, as you would think that you should start with Unit 1, but the Diploma units are not done in order. Units 1 and 2 are sold together, but Unit 2 must come first.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T PASS UNIT 2?
You can still proceed to other units as long as you have taken the Unit 2 exam. If you do not pass it we can arrange for a retake, but you do not have to wait until that retake before moving on to other units.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I CAN’T MAKE AN EXAM DATE?
Exam dates are set globally by the WSET headquarters, not by the provider. They cannot be rescheduled. The only exception is for the Unit 2 exam, which the provider does set. Exam registrations are due 8 weeks prior to the exam date. If you are within that 8-week timeline—say 7 weeks—you cannot enroll in an exam or get out of taking it. The only exceptions are for documented medical or legal excuses. If you miss an exam it goes down as a “non-attend,” which is the same as a fail. You will need to pay for the exam when it is next offered, which may not be for a year. Exam dates are published well in advance so students must consider them carefully and make other life plans around these dates.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO FINISH DIPLOMA IN ONE YEAR?
No. The basic reason is that it would be impossible to get all the exams completed in a year, given the way they are scheduled. More practically, the Diploma is a very comprehensive and difficult course and takes at least 18 months to complete.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO COMPLETE ALL DIPLOMA SEGMENTS?
When you enroll in Diploma it is for a term of three years. You are able to get an extension for a fee beyond that time if needed.
WHAT READING MATERIALS COME WITH THE TUITION AND WHAT DO I NEED TO GET ON MY OWN?
Diploma registration gives a student access to the WSET Diploma Student Online Classroom. This site is where the student can download the digital-only Diploma textbook, along with several study support documents. These are the only materials that you need but we do encourage you to explore any other reputable material that you feel will expand your knowledge. The textbook itself contains references to great websites for further reading.
CAN I TAKE SOME UNITS ONLINE AND OTHERS IN THE IN-PERSON TRADITIONAL COURSE FORMAT?
Yes, you may switch formats between units.
CAN I SWITCH PROVIDERS FOR INDIVIDUAL UNITS?
The basic answer is no. The WSET expects you to complete Diploma with the provider you originally enroll with. If that provider is not offering a unit or unit exam that you need it is possible to take it with another provider. If you move to another provider’s area you may also switch to that provider.
WHEN DO TRADITIONAL IN-PERSON CLASSES MEET?
The in person courses meet on select weekends from 9AM-5PM throughout the year. This scheduling allows for people who live a distance from the class location to attend.