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Posted: Friday, 02 July 2010 10:00

Inching Towards London MW in Austria

Indians and other international students working towards the coveted MW title from the Institute of Masters Wine do not have to go to London for  their course work, with the Austrian Wine Academy offering the course in English starting next year, informs Susanne Staggl, Marketing Manager of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB).

AWMB which is a 50% partner in the Rust (u pronounced like in full) based Weinakademie Österreich will launch its English language programme on International Wines and Spirits (in conjunction with WSET-London) in October this year. Austrian Wine Academy, the largest wine school in continental Europe is ready to launch its English language programme; they are already conducted several courses in German. The residential format allows one to experience Austria's wine regions and cuisine too.

Dr Josef Schuller MW, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Academy and also the first-ever non UK Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine says: “This is an exciting new development which enables us to offer students from around the world the opportunity to study and progress from a solid professional level of wine, via the WSET Diploma, all the way to the Master of Wine Programme, here in this unique setting in Rust”.

Rust is a small picturesque town in Burgenland- one of the wine regions in Austria and ‘is directly located at Lake Neusiedl and close to the Hungarian border. Here we are amongst the wine region of Burgenland surrounded by leading wineries and also not far away from Vienna as well as the wine regions Thermen region and Carnuntum of Lower Austria. This offers a unique opportunity to visit several vineyards and wineries in the region, informs Irene Bachkönig, Weinakademiker, Product Manager of Weinakademie Österreich (Wine Academy of Austria).

The course covers the most important wine regions of the world and styles, including sparkling and fortified wines and a section on spirits, which the students are taught to critically understand and evaluate. It has been designed as a residential course and late afternoons and evenings are designated to workshops, visits to vineyards, wineries and educational tastings.

Advanced Course Fee, including lunches and all visits is €1290. The total course is spread over 9 days each with the following options:
11-15th October and 11 – 14th November 2010
14-18th March and 4-7th April 2011

Successful graduates of this course may then move on to the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits, also an international trade qualification and known in Austria as Weinakademiker. This diploma is not only the stepping stone to join the programme to become a Master of Wine, only 285 of whom have reached the pinnacle, but in itself is a highly respected qualification in the world of wine and catapults the wine professional in his career in wine.

The accommodation in Rust is quite reasobale and ‘varies from € 30-40 for private rooms and guesthouses up to € 70-80 in the local hotels. We have special agreements with certain hotels in Rust for our students,’ said Irene in response to a query from delWine.

As the WSET site indicates, the advanced course is already conducted throughout the world. Isheeta Gupta, daughter of Ranjit Gupta of an Indian wine importer Amfora Wines, has just returned from London after spending a couple of weeks and giving the exams for the Advanced Course. ‘I believe some people are conducting the course in India too. One can do it through distance learning as well. But the tastings and discussions that took place in London, was something I feel have no substitute elsewhere.’

Austria may well offer similar surrounding, with an experience of over 20,000 students having attended some wine course or the other, including MW. It appears to be slightly more expensive than London. But cheaper stay, lovely, relaxed surroundings and an opportunity to visit Austrian vineyards would make it worthwhile preposition.

A word of caution though -don’t flaunt the Advanced Course as a sommelier  ‘qualification from WSET,’ certainly not in front of the diploma holders and never in front of an MW. Mere 7-9-or 12 days of intensive training-including tasting may not make you an expert. But the course is a stepping stone for the highly respected and meaningful Diploma after which you may decide if you can spare a few years to risk trying to become the first MW from India.

For details of the programme in Austria, visit or write to Irene at

For details of the programme and registration, click HERE



Subhash Arora Says:

Sorry for the delay in reacting as I am in Chile, judging at a wine competition and rather busy. Let me start by correcting you-the article was in no way a promo for Austria. There was no consideration and it was meant to be a source of information for some of our viewers like you who value WSET- and as an alternative to going to London and actually seeing Austrian vineyards many of which I have had the privilege of visiting. You talk of the importance of quality education being recognised now. I have been doing it in my own small way for the past 8 years. Incidentally, I met the Director of WSET at the London Wine Show about 6 years back with the objective of introducing in India but wanted them to give special rates for India. Not only did they not budge a penny, they insisted one had to buy the costly books for each level individually. I even bought books for the first 2 levels and going through the course realised the programme had nothing much to offer me unless I wanted to do the Diploma/MW.

I am not clear if you have done the Advance Course about which I have written-or the Diploma before MW in which case I salute you. When you become an  MW, I shall bow to you like I do in front of over two dozen of MWs who are my personal friends. MW in the UK or MS in US are ultimate in terms of educational achievement-but doing the ‘Ph.D.’ in wine is not a necessary requirement for the Indian environment for most people. There are several other possibilities –which maybe even better. I wonder, how much they taught you about the Indian wine scenario in your course, for instance. Perhaps an Indian Wine Master-IWM based on the Cape Wine Master might be better suited. What we need right now is the basic, solid education with tasting for the masses and those in the F & B industry-at any rate, for people who are interested in wine appreciation and need to learn the basics quickly, rather than everyone aiming to become an MW or a WSET Diploma (level 4). I may add that I have been quite disappointed that the Indage project of setting up a college in collaboration with Adelaide University fell through. It would have been an excellent option and Chougules have done a big disservice to the Indian wine scenario by letting go of the opportunity in their greed to increase only the share prices.

There are surely going to be a lot of opportunities opening up and more choices will available soon-ball has already been set to roll. Even people like you would be contributing, I am sure. But please remember WSET may not be the panacea for the quality wine education in India.  Thanks for your comments and Good Luck in your teaching objectives.

Subhash Arora, Santiago (Chile)   

Posted @ July 12, 2010 16:57


Niladri Dhar, AIWS Says:

I came across a similar 'news' on another Indian wine website a few days ago and commented there too as this topic is close to my heart. Great to see that the importance of quality wine education is finally being recognised and is starting to receive much needed attention in the country. But wouldn't it be nice if leading wine proponents like your website (and a few others) actually use your influence to promote WSET courses in India rather than running a full-page promo for similar courses in a different country? Considering the rather embryonic nature of the Indian wine industry and the corresponding potential for growth, a sustainable wine education sector is of paramount importance. Let's emphasise once more; 'quality' wine education like the ones offered by the WSET. I have recently acquired my WSET Diploma and planning to go further in the near future. I'm open to suggestions and feedback on exploring opportunities in wine education in India. Let's bear in mind, 'Quality wine education is the key to success in unconventional markets' (this, co-incidentally, was the topic of my blog post recently!!).

Posted @ July 06, 2010 10:40


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