The Vinitaly International Academy | Vinitaly International


About Vinitaly International Academy

1What is Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) and what does VIA do?

Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) is a wine education institution that focuses on the authenticity, diversity and originality of Italian wine. VIA offers a complete educational path with standardized courses that will teach professionals and educators to master the diversity of Italian wine in a rigorous, organized manner.

VIA’s main objective is to foster a global network of highly qualified professionals such as Italian Wine Ambassadors and Italian Wine Experts: in turn, they will support and promote Italian wine throughout the world.

2What is the history of Vinitaly International Academy and its status quo?

Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) was originally launched in February 2014 in the shape of Executive Wine Seminars to accompany Vinitaly International’s events abroad.

In April 2015, VIA hosted its first Italian Wine Ambassador Certification Course and after 15 editions in Italy and abroad, VIA has trained over 600 wine professionals and certified over 230 Italian Wine Ambassadors, of which 15 have also gained the highest level of certification, the Italian Wine Expert title.

In 2017, VIA initiated developing the intermediate level course "Italian Wine Maestro Certification Course" and held the pilot course in Canada on that same year. Entering into 2018, VIA embarked on several major upgrades to its design, including the creation of the VIA Ecosystem. Proving to be a tangible development, VIA Ecosystem is harmonized by its 4 pillars (Chief Scientist, Advisory Board, VIA Faculty and VIA supporters).

In addition to this, there was a reformatting of the flagship Ambassador Certification Courses as well as the introduction of an online Maestro Educator program. VIA certified the first batch of Italian Wine Educator in September 2019. To know more about the program, please write to

3Where can I get more information about Vinitaly International Academy’s activities?

The Vinitaly International Academy page is the central reference site. You are also encouraged to become familiar and follow all Vinitaly International social media activities; it is through social media that we gradually release event plans.

Please also make sure to sign up for the Vinitaly International newsletter and remember to update VIA staff of any changes to contact information should they occur.

4How do we support / keep connected all the ambassadors?

Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) has built up an extremely capable and professional team to promote its educational activities, they provide fundamental support and growth of the VIA global community.

Moreover, Via Ecosystem is designed to act as the keystone for personal development in the VIA community; it enables competent alumni to assume more teaching roles and promotes receptiveness and cooperation with the VIA community.

VIA also makes every effort to involve the community in Vinitaly events; wine2wine, 5StarWines, and Operawine to name just a few. Vinitaly also takes part in new projects and oversees roadshows etc. As support for VIA grows, it will engage the community by offering various study trips and press opportunities on a more frequent basis.

Last but not the least, VIA is constantly updating its knowledge pool and spreading the gospel of Italian wine digitally as well as in person, to encourage community members to achieve higher certification and take on more responsibility.

5What VIA offers to support alumni to achieve higher certification level?

VIA Alumni are motivated to re-sit the course for refreshing the knowledge as well as deepening the knowledge on specific fields. They will receive a 50% deduction on the course fee. The alumni will also have the chance to participate the wine competitions, wine shows, exclusive tastings, so to further their understanding.

VIA is building up an online library where access is strictly limited to Ambassadors and Experts, this would also largely improve the chance of an IWA to achieve higher scores.

The courses and certifications

1Which certification courses do we offer?

The Italian Wine Ambassador Certification Course;

The intermediate level Italian Wine Maestro certification course is now officially released -;

The foundation level Italian Wine Fellow certification course is currently under construction.

2What are the prerequisites for the certification courses?

All classes are delivered in English, therefore it is essential that the registrant has a decent level of English, both spoken and written.

For the Italian Wine Ambassador certification course, applicants with WSET Diploma/Advanced Sommelier certificates or the equivalent wine knowledge or a qualifying score from the Italian Wine Maestro course are prefered.

VIA is responsible for evaluating the applicants based on criteria such as their wine education background, applicable past work experience as well as their current roles.

For the Italian Wine Maestro certification course - No prior course is required but the WSET level 3, or equivalent wine knowledge is recommended as a prerequisite to this course.

Certified Educators are in charge of entry evaluation. The Italian Wine Fellow course is open to the entire wine community.

3What are the certifications being awarded by Vinitaly International Academy?

1. Italian Wine Expert (IWE) - Deemed to be the highest level of certification awarded by VIA, the IWE certificate states that the student has reached the highest level in Italian wine education.

2. Italian Wine Ambassador (IWA) – Is VIA’s backbone in terms of Italian wine education and promotion.

3. Italian Wine Educator - The Italian Wine Educator title is awarded to IWAs and IWEs at the completion of the Italian Wine Educator Program.

4. Italian Wine Maestro - The intermediate certification course is taught by Italian Wine Educators, it offers a unique understanding of Italian native grapes and serves as the stepping stone to the Italian Wine Ambassador certification course.

5. Italian Wine Fellow – This foundation level course is designed for newcomers to the Italian wine industry and also appeals to the larger community of wine lovers around the world.

About the Ambassador Certification Course

1What is the Ambassador Certification Course and what its main features?

It's a five-day intensive training to teach a chosen international group of wine educators, journalists, and trade a highly specialized curriculum of Italian wine covering the native grapes, the featured territories, the essential cultural heritage which will shape participants into passionate and capable storytellers and evangelists, with the confidence to impart Italian wine knowledge to their own audiences.

The course has a revitalised tasting program and has incorporated a group project that requires students to videotape a 4-minute presentation on a designated topic to help ensure that we are developing a community of great wine communicators.

The course structure has been adapted to focus on macro areas where native wine grapes are found based on their main planting area.

The warm-up sessions, different each time are dedicated to the most important grapes/regions, these are inserted on a rotational basis to ensure the novelty of each certification course.

Extra tasting labs are also introduced to ensure candidates are given maximum exposure to Italian wine.

Candidates who score over 65 and below 90 in Stage 1 (refer to "What is covered on the exam?" FAQ) part of the Exam will receive the title of Italian Wine Ambassador. Candidates who score over 90 in Stage 1 part qualify for Stage 2 (Blind Tasting and Oral Defense), upon the successful pass of the stage 2 exam, Italian Wine Expert title will be awarded accordingly.

2How many certified Italian Wine Ambassadors / Italian Wine Experts are there to date? In how many countries?

There are in total 244 Italian Wine Ambassadors and 15 Italian Wine Experts from 38 Countries and/or regions.

3What are the benefits and obligations of VIA Ambassadors (IWA) and Experts (IWE)?

IWAs and IWEs have the privilege to take part in all the available educational and promotional activities. VIA recommends eligible IWAs and IWEs to participate at events hosted by Vinitaly, both in Italy and abroad. IWAs and IWEs are also encouraged to make proposals to VIA so as to explore new areas of cooperation.

The IWAs and IWEs are required to act in the appropriate manner, befitting the title they have been awarded. Each member must behave according to VIA’s code of conduct; contributing to the growth of VIA and its community, including paying the membership fee, contributing to the VIA publications, hosting promotional and educational activities, etc.

4What is the new VIA faculty for the Ambassador Certification Course ?

VIA Faculty currently includes Sarah Heller - Master of Wine (MW) and Italian Wine Ambassador (IWA) - and Henry Davar, Italian Wine Expert (IWE). They are appointed to ensure the maximum delivery of the VIA’s knowledge to the prospective students.

Sarah, with a record number of awards in the Master of Wine exams, brings a rigorous academic focus and Asian market perspective to VIA while Henry Davar is an all-around expert in Italian Wine, whose experience as a beverage buyer at the Michelin level, wine competition judge, as well as import and wholesale experience would prove valuable,, they both elevate VIA to the highest standards.

5What are the textbooks?

The Ambassador Certification Course suggests two text books: Italian Wine Unplugged Grape by Grape and Sangiovese Lambrusco and other vine stories.

Candidates are encouraged to refer to online resources such as and VIA team is compiling another series of textbooks based on the major 5 macro-areas of Italy.

6What is covered on the exam?

The exam consists of 4 parts:

100 multiple choice questions, 2 short answer questions, a blind tasting of 2 wines and a group video project.

The subjects are all covered by the textbooks and the lectures by the VIA faculty.

7How should the candidates prepare to pass the exam?

All candidates are advised to read through the required materials and practice wine tasting. Independent study in advance of the course is absolutely critical for both better comprehension of the course and for success in the exam.

Based on our experience, we recommend that you start preparing at least one or two months before the course starts, in order to achieve desirable results. Please consult the course materials to guide you in your preparation efforts.

8Can I sit my exam at a later date if feeling unprepared?

Yes, you can postpone your exam to a later date by sending your request to the administration team at least 2 weeks before the course starts. Please note, the ability to sit the exam may be limited depending on the courses being offered at that time. This is because of possible restrictions to the hosting capacity at certain venues.

9Can I apply for a Scholarship?

VIA currently offers no scholarship or fee reduction to new applicants, however, those who decide they would like to apply for a resit of the entire course are entitled to a 50% reduction on the course fee (IVA excluded).

Please verify your eligibility for the fee reduction by contacting us at:

10When and where are the upcoming Ambassador Certification Courses?

After our Hong Kong course, the next VIA Ambassador certification course will be held in Verona from 10 to 14 April 2020 and VIA is currently verifying the possibility to host additional 2 courses in Asian and in North America.

11How can one progress beyond the Italian Wine Ambassador (IWA)?

After achieving IWA status, one can either re-sit the exam to achieve higher certification or take the educator program to become a Certified Educator. One would then be able to teach the Maestro courses and fellow courses.

Essentially, every IWA will function as a local market reference point, cooperating with VIA and Italian producers, raising awareness and expanding the reach of the Italian wine market.

12What is the refresher course about?

The refresher course is held to help Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) alumni stay up to date with current information, so as to maintain the highest quality of VIA Italian Wine Ambassadors (IWAs) and Italian Wine Experts (IWEs) in the wine community.

It will be delivered in the format of an advanced course and taught by VIA Chief Scientist Prof. Attilio Scienza over a two-day period. Advanced courses are comprised of 4 modules which will vary each time, in order to cover a wide range of information.

IWAs and IWEs are required to attend at least one of the advanced courses every year as one of the requirements to maintain the title of IWA or IWE.

About the Italian Wine Maestro Course

1What is the structure of Italian Wine Maestro course?

The Italian Wine Maestro Course consists of 8 sessions of 3-hour lectures each which introduce students to the wealth of Italian native grape varieties that are fundamental to comprehend Italy’s complex and fascinating wines.

IWAs and IWEs who have obtained "Italian Wine Educators" title upon successful completion of the Maestro Educator Program will be entitled to run the course following the protocols.

Please contact for Educator program sign-up instruction.

2What is the Italian Wine Maestro Educator Program?

The maestro educator program aims to prepare ambassador or expert more developed and authorization to teach in their home countries/regions.

It is a prerequisite to complete the Maestro Educator Program before one can organise Maestro Courses.

Exemption from sitting the program is valid for IWEs and few IWAs, it is recommended that all of them sit the program.

3Is there a limit on the number of Educators in a certain region?

No, Vinitaly International Academy will not control the number of educators in a certain area. Though for the first few editions of educator program, VIA will focus on the following area: USA, China, Russia, the Scandinavia countries and Eastern Europe.

Due to the size limit of every class, we do impose a quota system on those areas. Please write to us for more info.


By email:;

Or Directly book a zoom meeting with us;

Simply join the VIA info/inquiry WhatsApp group.