chicago wine school

Chicago’s Wine School

The only wine school in Chicago to offer accredited sommelier certification from the National Wine School. The Chicago Wine & Sommelier School offers wine courses up to the Level Three Certification. Programs are offered online and in person.

The Chicago Wine & Sommelier School was established in 2020 by two former technology executives seeking a better life. Having earned their Advanced Sommelier Certification, they completed the NWS teacher training program in Philadelphia.

We offer wine tastings, corporate wine training, and NWS sommelier certification programs. We also run the best wine classes in Chicago!

Online Professional Wine Courses

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History of Chicago Wine Schools

Chicago has a long history of wine education, dating back to the earliest years of the 20th Century. Just a few years after the end of Prohibition, the legendary Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute was founded. Eventually giving rise to such notable chefs as Charlie Trotter and Jeff Mauro, this culinary school put food and wine education on the map in Chicago.

By the 1970s, Chicago’s food and wine scene ascended, rivaling those in New York and San Francisco. Then, the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS) opened one of its first chapters in the United States. It was the first institution to bring formalized wine education to all Chicagoans. This was when wine and food became established as a worthwhile field of study, not just for sommeliers and chefs. It also tied Chicago into an international network of wine educators, with its main hub in London. The founder of IWFS, André Simon, was the decade’s most important wine educator. Through his writings and lectures, he played a crucial role in demystifying wine when knowledge about it was not widely accessible.

In 1984, the very first Chicago Wine School was founded by Patrick Fegan, evolving from the “Wine City Tasters Union,” which he founded in 1977. Patrick educated an entire generation of Chicagoans. He steered clear of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), preferring to teach a more holistic form of wine education. He developed a five-week course in wine studies that influenced many of his peers in Chicago and worldwide.

The Chicago Wine School was also one of the first wine schools in the US. So early, in fact, that he scooped up the domain “wineschool.com” in 1997, which is now on sale for a cool half million dollars. It was also one of the only to have its own facilities. The school was originally located at 2001 S. Halsted Street in East Pilsen .

Patrick influenced and assisted other wine schools across the country, including the founder of the National Wine School, Keith Wallace. “Patrick was a huge help and influence on founding our schools, first in Philadelphia and then in Vermont,” said Mr Wallace, “I will always miss his laugh.” Mr. Fegan passed away in March of 2016 at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. He was 68.

Chicago Wine School

In the early days of the 21st century, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust opened up a franchise in Chicago. However, the programming did not take off during Patrick’s tenure at the Chicago Wine School. By 2010, Kendall College and the Institute of Culinary Arts started incorporating advanced wine studies into their curriculum. These well-received programs offered a pathway for people seeking a college-level wine education.

One of the main providers of wine education material for colleges and universities, the National Wine School, decided to start offering its programming directly to students through its online and in-person centers. One of the first such centers was the Chicago Wine & Sommelier School.

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