Resources: Where to get Certified

HomeDall'Uva ForumsItalian WinesSommelier ChatResources: Where to get Certified

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    • #3025
      Michael Horne

      Where you study for your Sommelier Certification matters. You have many options, but a few Sommelier organizations tend to have more respected credentials than others. Schools that attract top Master Sommeliers as instructors tend to be the best.

      I studied under Master Sommeliers David Glancy & Alan Murray to earn my credentials as Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers several years back.  David started San Francisco Wine School last year and recently posted a handy (and factual) summary of the Sommelier groups you can tap for Certification.

      David was kind enough to let me include his summary list here for wine enthusiasts looking to earn their Sommelier certification.  If you’d like to check out his blog post on the topic, you’ll find it here.

      If you know of other quality certification programs, just Reply to this Forum topic and share with other soon-to-be Sommeliers.

      Court of Master Sommeliers LogoCourt of Master Sommeliers UK

      • Website:
      • Founded 1977
      • Courses taught worldwide in conjunction with Court of Master Sommeliers Americas
      • Instructors not listed but all are Master Sommeliers
      • Introductory, Certified, Advanced & Master Sommelier diplomas

      Court of Master Sommeliers Americas

      • Website:
      • American Chapter founded 1986
      • Courses taught worldwide in conjunction with Court of Master Sommeliers UK
      • Instructors not listed but all are Master Sommeliers
      • Introductory, Certified, Advanced & Master Sommelier diplomas

      Guild of SommeliersGuild of Sommeliers

      • Website:
      • Founded 2003
      • Events held throughout the United States
      • Affiliated with the Guild of Sommeliers UK and Court of Master Sommeliers UK & Americas but does not provide formal classes or exams. It is an educational membership society.
      • Created & runs Top Somm competition

      Sommelier Society of AmericaSommelier Society of America

      • Website:
      • Founded 1954
      • only taught in New York City
      • no international affiliation
      • 10 instructors & only 3 have restaurant experience in bio
      • Certificate course & others

      American Sommelier AssociationAmerican Sommelier Association

      • Website:
      • Founded 1998
      • only taught in New York City
      • no international affiliation
      • 27 instructors including 1 MS & several other respected sommeliers
      • Created & run Best Sommelier in America Competition (not to be confused w/ Top Somm which is run by the Guild of Sommeliers or Jeune Sommelier which is run by the Chaine des Rotisseurs)
      • Foundation course & others

      US Sommelier AssociationUS Sommelier Association

      • Website:
      • Founded 1998
      • only taught in Miami, San Francisco, Serbia & Croatia
      • no international affiliation
      • 10 instructors & only 4 have restaurant experience in bio
      • Certificate, Immersion, Advanced & National Certificate courses

      North American Sommelier AssociationNorth American Sommelier Association

      • Website:
      • Founded 2010
      • only taught in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston & New York City
      • affiliate of World Sommelier Association which was created by Italian Sommelier Association to teach Italian wines around the world
      • NASO is only WSA chapter to teach anything beyond Italian wines
      • 6 instructors and bios only available for 2 of them
      • Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Specialist courses

      Worldwide Sommelier AssociationWorldwide Sommelier Association

      • Website:
      • Founded 1973
      • Created Best World Sommelier WSA competition but no mention of it since 2010
      • Affiliate chapters in North America, Asia & throughout Europe
      • NASO is only chapter teaching beyond Italian wines

      Italian Sommelier AssociationItalian Sommelier Association

      • Website:
      • Founded 1965 & created WSA 1973
      • 33,000 members in Italy
      • no instructors are listed & bios not provided for board of directors

      International Sommelier GuildInternational Sommelier Guild

      • Website:
      • Founded 1984
      • Courses taught throughout USA, Canada & China
      • not affiliated with any other organizations
      • instructors are not listed nor are their backgrounds or credentials
      • Fundamentals I & II, Sommelier Diploma & Teacher Education courses

      International Wine GuildInternational Wine Guild

      • Website:
      • Founded 1998
      • Headquartered in Denver with classes also in Arizona, Texas, Virginia & Washington
      • No international affiliation
      • 8 instructors & only 2 have restaurant experience in bio
      • Level I, II, III & other courses

      Michael Horne, CS
      Los Gatos, CA USA
    • #7165

      Great resources!

      The ISG took my money then cancelled my course. I could not make the next class offered. I have tried to get a refund with no luck. No return phone calls or emails received from ISG. In Calgary, take the WSET course!

      • #7223
        Michael Horne

        Hi Alex — sorry to hear about the problem getting your money back from ISG. If they cancel a class, they really should provide a refund. I’m guessing they couldn’t get enough people together for the course, and that’s why they cancelled, but if it’s their choice they should refund you.

        I did find this link for some WSET courses in Calgary as you mentioned:

        The Wine & Spirits Education Trust is a pretty well respected source for getting wine training. As a reference, there’s more info here:


        Michael Horne, CS
        Los Gatos, CA USA
    • #7261

      ISG is a terrible company.

      I was registered to take the diploma exam course. After paying over $3500 they cancelled the course. Now they wont refund the money or return any of my calls.

      Rumor was that they also delayed payment of their instructors. Sounds like a company in financial distress doesn’t it

      Better Business Bureau could not get the ISG to respond to their inquiry placed on my behalf. Next step will be Consumer Affairs.

      Don’t get involved with these people.

      • #7264
        Michael Horne

        Wow Alex, that’s terrible.  I agree, it sounds like ISG may be in financial trouble.

        Did you pay ISG the tuition fee of $3500 with a credit card?  If so, you should be able to contest the charge with your Credit Card company, since ISG failed to deliver the services for the money paid.  You could also take them to small claims court, though if they’ve squandered their money it may be tough to get them to pay (though the courts could help).

        Some service companies charge fees in advance, and maintain the right to cancel a class if attendance doesn’t turn out to be enough to make it profitable.  However, if it’s their choice to cancel, then they really reimburse their students.

        Best of luck getting this resolved, and let me know how it goes. I’m still a big fan of the Court of Master Sommeliers as a superb way to earn your accreditation, though you would have to travel to attend some of the courses.

        Another option is to check out the courses taught by David Glancy MS and crew at San Francisco Wine School — they have some good courses of varying lengths, many taught by Master Sommeliers like David.  I think some can be attended remotely.

        — Michael

        Michael Horne, CS
        Los Gatos, CA USA
    • #7270
      Jonny Tyson

      Bad news about ISG behavior. I would call them – emails are easy to ignore or go into junk. The fault may be with your provider college/program provider. They should get their accreditation removed.

      With regards to WSET and CMS. The Court inthe UK tend to recomend  that you do WSET level 3 (or equivilent) before you attempt the Certified Sommelier exam. The CMS don’t run courses per se until you get to Advanced level. They also expect you to have at least 3 years wine service experience minimum. WSET and CMS were originally set up be some of the same organisations with WSET focusing on the wine trade and CMS to examine and certify wine hospitality professionals

    • #7285

      Thank you for your feedback and concern. Still no refund. Will look into small claims court. Thanks again!

      Hope you are having a great day!

    • #7426

      That’s interesting Alex! I went through the ISG fundamentals I and II ten years ago and would have completed the Sommelier Degree if they offered it in my area. I am revisiting this week to see if I can complete it anytime in the near future, and I am getting blown off too. I’ve called, and written twice with no response…and I’m only inquiring about trying to take a future class! I’m glad I read about your experience. I’d rather start over with a more reputable institution then get ripped off by one less respected. I’m sorry to hear that happened to you…I’d be royally pissed and absolutely seeking my money back.

    • #7458

      Thanks for the information! Very helpful!

      • #7461
        Michael Horne

        I’m happy to provide the info, Clemens. We seem to get a lot of google searches for the Sommelier topic coming in the door. 

        Are you a Somm? Are you thinking about becoming one?



        Michael Horne, CS
        Los Gatos, CA USA
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