Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program at the CIA Paves the Way to a Career in Wine

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Tyffani Peters-Sedgwick
Media Relations Specialist

St. Helena, CA – In just four years, the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program (AWBP) at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has proven to be a highly successful path to a quality career in the wine and beverage industry. Graduates have already landed highly coveted wine and beverage positions with some of the world's best restaurants, wineries, and distributors, as well as in other segments of the industry.

Twelve members of the most recent class of 24 graduates elected to take the Court of Master Sommelier Level 2: Certified Sommelier Exam, and all of them passed. In the last four years, AWBP graduates have earned a pass rate on that exam that is 20% higher than the national average.

The program and its graduates are making an impression on the industry. Addressing graduates at a ceremony last month, James Tidwell, a 1998 CIA alumnus who is also a Master Sommelier and wine industry leader, noted how impressed he is with the AWBP course of study and encouraged students to continue to use it to lay the foundation for their careers. Tidwell, who currently serves as beverage manager for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Dallas, TX, started out in a small bistro in New Jersey.

“In that tiny restaurant, I worked with a James Beard Award-winning executive chef and the best service team in a small town. I gained the foundation for my career with a breadth and depth that I couldn't have received anywhere else.”

Since AWBP was created, 82 students have graduated. Many of them are now working as sommeliers in high-end restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Per Se in New York City; Gary Danko and Hakkasan in San Francisco, CA; and Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena, CA. Some are running wine programs at places like Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, CA; and Sons & Daughters and Nopa in San Francisco, CA. Others hold high positions in Napa Valley wineries, are front-of-the-house managers in restaurants, and at least one is pursuing a career in wine writing.

The Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program is held at the CIA's Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA, in the heart of the Napa Valley wine country. Over the course of the eight-month program, students taste more than 1,000 wines in class, take dozens of field trips, and learn from the CIA's expert wine faculty as well as more than 50 guest speakers. Classes focus on wines of the world, sensory analysis, the professional business of wine, spirits, and mixology.

The next class begins August 19, 2014. Enrollees must be at least 21 years old with a bachelor's or associate degree in hospitality management, culinary arts management, or a related field; or a bachelor's degree and a year of experience in a restaurant with a professional wine and beverage program. For more information, visit us online.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Master Sommelier and CIA alumnus James Tidwell addresses students graduating from the CIA's Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program (AWBP). (Photo credit: Charlie Gesell/CIA)
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Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering associate and bachelor's degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and culinary science, as well as certificate programs in culinary arts and wine and beverage studies. As the world's premier culinary college, the CIA provides thought leadership in the areas of health & wellness, sustainability, and world cuisines & cultures through research and conferences. The CIA has a network of 46,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi, Cat Cora, Dan Coudreaut, Steve Ells, Charlie Palmer, and Roy Yamaguchi. The CIA also offers courses for professionals and enthusiasts, as well as consulting services in support of innovation for the foodservice and hospitality industry. The college has campuses in Hyde Park, NY; St. Helena, CA; San Antonio, TX; and Singapore.

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