“Grape to Grain” WSET Classes for Beverage Curious

Burgundy vintners pay for their own hail storm shield.
Instruction at a WSET class. Photo WSET

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) oversees the education of drink enthusiasts and beverage professionals worldwide, offering globally recognized courses and qualifications through a network of Approved Program Providers. In the United States, more than 40 providers lead beginner-through-expert level classes on wine, spirits and sake in more than 22 states.

To spur the steady low- to mid-single-digit growth in U.S. wine sales, and perhaps piggy-back onto the surge in the sales of brown spirits and saké, as well as keep up its own enrollment numbers, the British-based organization has created WSET Week USA the week of May 1-7, 2017. Showcasing “Grape to Grain” education across the country, the events offer everyone from the beverage curious to the budding professional to dip their toe… er… glass… in the font of alcohol and knowledge and rub shoulders with the kind of people who can tell exactly what is in that glass from just the color, nose and taste.

How is bourbon made? What defines the different styles of saké? What makes the wines of Bordeaux so revered? These questions and many more are routinely answered by WSET educators. With the first WSET Week USA, the providers will open their doors to anyone interested in these topics, to learn from WSET educators and alumni.

Each provider will be hosting their own style of event, which is why the pricing ranges from free to $10, $15 or $50.  For a full schedule of events by city with their prices, click here.

Hail shield to cover all of Burgundy wine region

Since the turn of the century, hail storms have ravaged the vineyards of Burgundy and, finally, Burgundy is going to stand up to Mother Nature.

“Hail storms have increased in recent years, the intensity is greater,” Thiébault Huber, president of ARELFA, Burgundy’s regional association for the study and fight against atmospheric issues told Agence-France Press. Huber, who is also president of the Volnay wine union, owns four hectares (10 acres) of vines making Burgundy reds and whites in three parishes: Volnay, Pommard and Meursault.

“Since 2001, it’s been terrible; when it hails, sometimes 90 or even 100 percent of the grape harvest is lost. It’s more and more frequent,” he said. “In 2012, we lost a huge amount to hail in the Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise. Last year, the Maconnais was hit, as was Chablis two or three times, and we had 11 alerts elsewhere.”

You know it’s bad when vintners decide to pay for something themselves. Since 2013, various appellations have levied dues on their members of about 8-to-10 euros per hectare ($8.50-to-$10.50 per 2.4 acres) to pay to have the system, a series of 125 generators that shoot silver iodide particles into the clouds above, aimed at stopping the formation of hail stones to reduce the risk of damage.

The generator technique, based on technology dating back to the 1950s, is only effective 48 percent of the time. Alternative solutions do exist, but they are much more costly. The installations are expected to be finished in June.

Published on April 18, 2017
Topics: Latest News
About the Author
Leslie Gevirtz
Contributing Editor, Business

An award-winning journalist, Gevirtz spent more than 20 years covering disasters—natural, political, and financial—before becoming Reuters’ wine correspondent; a beat that guaranteed her colleagues were always glad to see her.




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