Sipping towards a certificate from SDSU’s Business of Wine Program


I recently attended an open house at Splash Wine Lounge for SDSU’s College of Extended Studies Business of Wine program. Geared towards prospective students, it was still informative for me as a current student and gave me a chance to glimpse some of the teachers I’ll be learning from this fall.

Technology, man.

Technology, man.

It was also a chance to explore the goodies of Splash. For those who aren’t familiar, this wine bar specializes in individual tastings. The wines are hooked up to special contraptions that give out one-ounce pours (purchased using a plastic Splash card) and keeps the wine fresh. This is a really cool way to taste a wine before purchasing a bottle, or to taste a wide variety (study session, anyone?). They also have select wines by the glass and delicious food items – flatbreads, cheese plates and the sort of stuff that just begs for a wine pairing was served at the open house.

Back to the learning stuff – a few cool tidbits about the program:

  • The courses of the Business of Wine program can be taken “a la carte” for those who aren’t interested in pursuing a certificate. They do, however, recommend taking Exploring Wine to start. I completed that six-week course recently with teacher Lisa Redwine (yes, Redwine) – I highly recommend it as a great foundation builder.
  • They gave away a free course via raffle at the event! If I’d been 4 tickets earlier I’d be saving myself (ok, my parents) $300+ this fall. (Hint, hint – there’s another open house in the spring.)
  • One of the instructor’s revealed that there may soon be a San Diego wines course! Sign me up!

So now I’m even more excited for my classes to start. Here’s what I’m planning to take:

Wine Making Behind the Scenes: This class is just two Saturdays in total – sounds intense. The teacher is Gus Vizgirda – the winemaker at Wilson Creek Winery, so naturally the class is held there. I’m really looking forward to learning more about the process of winemaking since it’s such a foreign concept to me. I’ve also heard that Gus is a fantastic instructor.

Dynamic Food and Wine Pairing: This one is just one Saturday and teaches “how to identify what works, what doesn’t, and why not” in the world of food and wine pairing. The class starts at 9 a.m. – I’ve (maybe) never tasted wine that early in the day before. Understandably, this and the wine making class are both required for the certificate.

Intensive – California Wines: Part of the certificate program includes choosing three “Intensive” courses. The current intensives include: Burgundy Wines, California Wines, Dessert Wines, French Wines, Italian Wines, South American Wines, Spanish Wines, Sparkling Wines, Australian Wines and Austrian/German Wines. Honestly, I wish I could take them all (and maybe someday I will). But for now starting in my home state seems to make the most sense. It’s probably the area I’m most familiar with too, unlike….

Intensive – French Wines: It appears that the French know a thing or two about wine 😉 so this seems like a good way to wrap up the year. The Exploring Wine class started with France and I spent a good 12 – 14 hours reading up on the history, geography, wine making practices and grapes of France. The variety is staggering and so much information is difficult to keep straight. I did, however, learn a lot and got better at the daunting task of shopping for French wines. Côtes du Rhônes are now high on my wine shopping list. [Here’s one I recently enjoyed. I found it at Costco but it’s also available here on Guigal 2011 Cotes du Rhone Rouge – Rhone Blends Red Wine.]

Stay tuned for updates on these courses and what I learn. If you have questions on the program you can reach out to the staff here (they are really helpful). Or feel free to drop me a line and I’ll tell you what I know!

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