New in April 2023: The Specialist of Texas Wine Advanced Certification Course (Level 2) – “The Deep Dive” – Register Now!

Lead Photo Credit: Bending Branch Winery (Dr. Bob Young, winery owner)

New Advanced Course Starts in April 2023

Starting April 12, 2023, the Specialist of Texas (STW) Wine Advanced Level 2 Certification Course continues the first of its kind program initiated in 2014 (with its Level 1 class*) offered through The Texas Wine School. The highly successful Level 1 class has now amassed well over 200 certified Texas wine specialists. Never has there been a wine program this successful with those working in the Texas wine industry, trade and educated wine consumers. It focuses on Texas’s rich winegrowing and winemaking history, its geology and geography, its economics, its connections with wine regions around the world, and its wines of recent acclaim. To reach the maximum number of students, the STW courses are presented live via Zoom meeting. Click here for registration.

* The next regularly scheduled Level 1 STW course is scheduled to be given Fall 2023. If there is sufficient demand if may be given earlier.

Learn about Clinton ”Doc” McPherson and son Kim McPherson – both Texas wine legends

The Advanced Course extends the series of classes that were initiated in Level 1 but features more in-depth information on the wine regions of Texas, their characteristics, and their unique wines and styles.  Your instructor, who is also the course developer, is Dr. Russ Kane of VintageTexas.com, the longest tenured Texas wine writer who has followed the evolution of the modern Texas wine industry. He is also an award-winning Texas writer, author, Vintage Texas blogger, and knowledgeable and internationally traveled wine enthusiast. Dr. Kane has served on the board of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and honored with their Wine Media Award in in 2009 and 2013, served on the board and as Executive Director of The Wine Society of Texas, judged in many international wine competitions, and was a member of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Wine Industry Development Advisory Committee.

Dr. Russ Kane – STW course creator and presenter

According to Dr. Kane, ”Paid students attending the course will receive a copy of a primer titled “Starting a Vineyard in Texas” by my friend and wine industry associate, Jim Kamas, a Texas TAMU Agrilife Viticulture Specialist with both B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture with extensive experience in grape and fruit growing in Texas.”

Dr. Kane said, ”This advanced program exposes students to a ’deep dive’ on the unique landscapes of each of the eight wine American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in Texas: Texas High Plains, Texas Hill Country along with its Bell Mountain, and Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country sub-AVAs, Texoma, Escondido Valley, and Davis Mountains AVAs. It also delves into non-AVA regions of East Texas and Gulf Coast, and proposals for new AVAs in Texas.” The context for the Advanced Course is that Texas like other well-known wine regions in Spain, France, Italy and Australia is a warm growing region. However, it also has incursions of chilling cold in the Spring, Fall and Winter. The issues this combination of situations bring to Texas winegrowing and winemaking will be addressed and explained.

Kerrville Hill’s Winery owner and winemaker, John Rivenburgh

Course Highlights (Click here for registration)

This course includes multiple learning units held over four class and tasting sessions via Zoom that are dedicated to the following:

  • Texas’s timeline and more details on its transition from an early wine culture to a modern wine industry.
  • The details of T.V. Munson’s unique knowledge base and role he had in saving the European vineyards from Phylloxera and his Texas native grape legacy that permeates rootstock selections worldwide to this day. Plus, how Munson’s work with native grapevines still contributes to new approaches in using vinifera-native hybrids – The Walker varieties – to remedy other vineyard diseases.
  • A “deeper dive” into Texas’s wine regions looking at the origins of its soils, climatic conditions (temperatures, typical weather events, precipitation, and potential effects of global warming), and remaining wine industry challenges including herbicides used on nearby Cotton crops.
  • A penetrating look at the issues that differentiate warm growing regions like Texas from cooler growing regions and the critical differences important in varietal and blend selections, and winemaker decisions, and its wine styles.
  • A focus on starting a vineyard in Texas and considerations for opening and operating a Texas winery, including varietal selection, natural hazards, and economic analyses and considerations (e.g., price and availability of grape varieties in various Texas AVAs, Pierce’s disease, sustainability and economic effects from herbicide damage, and a review of economic models and management of income streams for success winery operations).
  • An archive of one-on-one videos with Texas winegrowers, winemakers and winery owners discussing many of the topics that are presented in this course.
  • Students will have access to over 180 course slides (some presented in class and some given as homework reading with following discussion sessions) and a bibliography of over 100 references and resource documents used in the development of this course.
Tastings and blending exercises will be included in this advanced wine course

Wine Tasting, Blend Exercise, and Final Exam

Dr. Kane said, ”The Advanced course also includes tasting of selected Texas wines and a blending exercise in which students plan, taste, blend, and evaluate their wine blend creations.”  Paid students will be provided six wines that will be used in the tasting and blending activities, and students will be required to obtain independently two additional wines (one white and one red) that will be used in the blending exercise. This exercise will be carried out partly in class and partly as homework with a written blending sheet submitted to the instructor.  The blending exercise will be graded and compose up to 20 percent of each student’s final grade. The balance of the students’ grade for certification will be determined by a comprehensive certification examination of at least 50 multiple choice questions drawn from the presentation slides with a passing score requirement of 80 percent.

Classes are held live by Dr. Russ Kane via Zoom with wines shipped to students from the Texas Wine School

Prerequisite, Student Dropbox Access & Zoom Classes

The prerequisite for students taking the Level 2 advanced course is successful completion of the Specialist of Texas Wine Level 1 course.

Dr. Kane said, ”As a special feature of this class, the students will have access to a special Dropbox location where copies of the course slides (both those used in class and those assigned for homework), videos, extensive bibliography of course references and sources of related information, and supplemental files (blending sheet, tasting notes, exam answer sheet, and course evaluation form).”

The Specialist of Texas Wine Advanced Course will be given live via Zoom meeting. This set-up allows interested students from all around Texas and in other states to participate in the class lectures, blending exercises, class Q&A, certification testing to become certified as an Advanced Specialist of Texas Wine. The Texas Wine School will provide links for students to use to access the student Dropbox and the classes on Zoom meeting. Click here for registration.

New Walker Grape Varieties are making their way into Texas vineyards – learn why!
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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

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