Sommelier Programs

Whether you are looking to impress your next date, to be the wine expert in the family or for a serious career change, Ottawa’s Algonquin College has you covered.

The college’s reputable Sommelier Certificate Program was initially developed in response to an increased demand for properly trained wine professionals.

Enrico DeFrancesco, the academic co-ordinator of the Algonquin sommelier program, says that studying wine is no longer the pretentious act it once was.

“It is wine education done in a fun learning environment, not done in an aggressive manner,” he said. “We make leaning about wine fun and interactive — half the time in lecture and half the time tasting.”

While the program’s main goal is to supply restaurants with qualified sommeliers to engineer wine lists, a number of different employment options are available to graduates.

“Students go on to be product consultants with the LCBO, wine representatives, vineyard management, wine authors or reviewers,” said DeFrancesco. “If people are interested in becoming a winemaker, the option is there to continue their education in Niagara.”

No one knows what following an interest can lead to better that graduate Debbi Trenholm. While working in the high-tech sector, Trenholm’s keenness for wine led her to taking a single wine class at Algonquin.

“Over the next two years, I took all the classes and graduated,” she said.

Trenholm now combines her business background with her love of wine as president of her own wine marketing business, Savvy Company. Savvy employs 11 accredited sommeliers — all Algonquin graduates — to contribute to the various aspects of the wine business.

“I think we are lucky in Ottawa, to have a sommelier program of this calibre,” said Trenholm. “If it wasn’t for the course, I wouldn’t have my business.”

Among the course’s other well-known graduates is Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta, the man responsible for Beckta Dining and Wine and the newly opened ByWard attraction, Play.

Going high-tech with her education, Natalie MacLean created the number one wine app on iTunes. The application lists food and drink pairings, wine reviews, glossary terms and a winery directory.

Algonquin College was the first college in Ontario to offer the certificate sommelier program, and is still one of only three colleges that offer the course.

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