Coming home to the city of love (and wine): Vinitaly International Academy to stage Ambassador course in Verona

On Friday March 29, 2019, Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) will launch its flagship Italian Wine Ambassador certification course in its home city—Verona—where the VIA project was founded 5 years ago by Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International. 62 wine professionals operating in 22 different markets all over the world will gather in Verona for in-depth training on Italian wines, learning about and tasting Italy’s oenological excellence. During the Verona edition of the course, VIA Chief Scientist Attilio Scienza, Institutional Advisory Board members Federvini, Federdoc, Vignaioli Indipendenti FIVI, and Unione Italiana Vini, as well as ICE – Italian Trade Agency representative will join Steve Kim and the VIA Faculty for the students’ award ceremony.

Vinitaly International Team

Photograph: Vinitaly International team will welcome 62 international wine professionals to Verona for the flagship Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Ambassador course from March 29 to April 2.

From March 29 to April 2, 2019, Vinitaly International Academy comes home to Verona, Italy, to run its reformatted, tasting-intensive Italian Wine Ambassador certification course, a week before the most important Italian wine fair, Vinitaly. The event is organized by Veronafiere and Vinitaly International with the support of ICE – Italian Trade Agency. 62 wine professionals have been selected to take the challenge and become Italian Wine Ambassadors after a week of rigorous training and a complex examination.

The Verona candidates operate in 22 different countries and markets including the United States, China, Hong Kong, Sweden, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Slovakia, Singapore, Turkey, Dubai, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, French, Denmark, Russia, Canada, Brazil, and Italy. They already hold international qualifications in wine such as WSET Diploma or sommelier certifications, and in Verona they will be looking to deepen and expand their knowledge of Italian wines. The cohort will also include one Master of Wine from South Africa (Lynne Sherriff), and one Master Sommelier from the United States (Brendon Tebbe).

The Italian Wine Ambassador course features a densely-packed programme of instruction and tasting for four days, with the fifth day being completely dedicated to the exam. In class, candidates learn about Italian wine through “warm-up” sessions which focus on specific topics such as Barolo or Italian sparkling wines (among others). They also have standard lectures on iconic denominations, grape varieties, wines, as well as information on the history, culture, and cuisine, all in all covering the 20 Italian regions, from north to south and the islands. In the restructured Ambassador course, the tasting component takes center-stage, with guided tastings led by VIA Faculty Sarah Heller MW and Henry Davar as well as additional Tasting Labs with wine labels provided by the official VIA Supporters.

The Tasting Labs in Verona will be the perfect occasion to expose these 62 international professionals to the diversity of Italian wines with exclusive labels contributed by the following VIA Supporters: Italia del Vino, Italian Signature Wines Academy, Famiglie del Vino, Wi-Fi Wine from Irpinia, Franciacorta, Consorzio Vini del Trentino, Consorzio Vini d’Abruzzo, and Sicilia DOC. These Labs in Verona will take the shape of walk-around tastings with the participation of some producers and representatives from the Supporter community that will pour and explain the wines directly to the students. Thanks to VIA Supporters, candidates will be able to taste over 320 labels of Italian wine, an incredible assortment representative of the biodiversity of the wine growing regions.

In addition, the Verona edition of the Ambassador course will see the participation of all the key players of the Vinitaly International Academy’s “ecosystem”. In addition to VIA Founder Stevie Kim and VIA Faculty members Heller and Davar, VIA Chief Scientist Prof. Attilio Scienza and the associations comprising the Institutional Advisory Board will also gather in Verona on the last day to meet the student cohort and proclaim the new Italian Wine Ambassadors. On Tuesday April 2, 2019 at 4:30 pm Stevie Kim, Prof. Attilio Scienza and Advisory Board representatives Ottavio Cagiano de Azevedo (Federvini), Matilde Poggi (Fivi Vignaioli Indipendenti), Giulio Somma and Chiara Menchini (Unione Italiana Vini), and Riccardo Ricci Curbastro (Federdoc) will award successful candidates the silver Italian Wine Ambassador pin (and gold pin for the Experts) during the traditional pinning ceremony. Veronafiere‘s President Maurizio Danese and CEO Giovanni Mantovani will also be present. At the ceremony, ICE – Italian Trade Agency senior official Brunella Saccone will also greet the students. ICE – Italian Trade Agency has kindly supported Vinitaly International Academy courses in Verona and in the United States.

After the Italian Wine Ambassador course many of the 62 wine professionals will remain in Verona to attend Vinitaly 2019, the largest Italian wine exhibition in the world. The next Italian Wine Ambassador course is scheduled to take place in New York from June 24 to 29, 2019, and applications are currently being accepted.




Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) aims to be the gold standard of Italian wine education. It 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. VIA was founded by Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International. The new VIA ecosystem avails of the guidance of Italian trade associations Federdoc, Federvini, Vignaioli Indipendenti FIVI, and Unione Italiana Vini as members of the Institutional Advisory Board. Italian vine genetics scholar, Prof. Attilio Scienza, oversees VIA’s scientific and educational direction as the Chief Scientist. VIA Faculty Sarah Heller MW and Henry Davar teach the flagship Italian Wine Ambassador course. The following trade associations in the Italian wine industry have also joined as VIA Supporters: Italia del Vino; Italian Signature Wines Academy; Le Famiglie del Vino, Wi-Fi Wine from Irpinia, Consorzio di Tutela Vini del Trentino; Consorzio di Tutela Sicilia DOC; Franciacorta; Consorzio di Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo. To date the VIA community comprises 168 certified Italian Wine Ambassadors and 13 Italian Wine Experts. Since its foundation in 2014, over 500 candidates from all over the world have taken VIA’s courses.