Wherever you are in your discovery of California wine, we have a class that’s right for you.

We offer four levels, from novice (no wine knowledge required) to expert. Each level builds upon the previous one and covers history, geography, climate, soils, grapes, viticulture, vinification, aging/maturation, wine law, official classifications, terminology, producers, vintages and the business of wine. Classes are a convenient mix of self-study and online classes, designed to complete according to your own schedule. Upon successful completion of an exam, you will receive a Capstone California wine certificate, providing the knowledge to move on to the next level (although exceptions are made for those with an existing wine background).

Our goal is to create an accessible course for as many interested trade professionals as possible around the globe! So if you are interested in the program and would like to enroll in our scholarship program, please apply here.

Capstone California Wine Certification Program

Introductory Level 1 | 6 Hours | US$175

The Introductory Level 1 covers six hours of wine curriculum, beginning with major eras in the history of California wine, including the Mission era, post-Gold Rush, Prohibition, and modern times. Level 1 candidates will:

  • Learn how California's geography, the Pacific Ocean and mountain ranges affect viticulture and wine styles.
  • Acquire fundamental knowledge of grape-growing practices and the specifics of viticulture compared to other agriculture, including the ability to identify and describe the important grape varieties grown in California.
  • Receive an introduction to the American Viticultural Area (AVA) system, including the world-famous AVAs of Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Santa Barbara County.
  • Explore California's iconic wineries, such as Ridge Vineyards, Frog’s Leap Winery and Robert Mondavi Winery.
  • Learn about the key statistics for California wine in global production, consumption and exports.

Our goal is to create an accessible course for as many interested trade professionals as possible around the globe! So if you are interested in the program and would like to enroll in our scholarship program, please apply here.

Capstone California Wine Certification Program

Intermediate Level 2 | 20 Hours | US$375

The Intermediate Level 2 course builds on Level 1 with 20 hours of curriculum and an additional tasting component. For theory, students will cover important events in California's wine history timeline and identify key figures who helped shaped the state’s wine industry, as well as:

  • Learn about important geographical factors in major California regions such as rivers, dry creeks and important mountain ranges including the Coastal Range, Mayacamas Mountains, the Vaca Range and Santa Cruz Mountains.
  • Take a deeper look at seven of California’s key grape varieties by exploring the growing regions where they are grown and their distinctive taste profiles.
  • Build understanding about the annual life cycle of the vine and related terms including: flowering, bud break, véraison, trellising, pruning, green harvest, harvest timing and more.
  • Learn winemaking fundamentals and explore cooperage variations (French vs. American vs. other European oak) and how wine style is affected by oak selection.
  • Delve deeper into historic AVAs in Lodi and the Sacramento Delta, Mendocino County, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Monterey County and Santa Cruz Mountains.

Our goal is to create an accessible course for as many interested trade professionals as possible around the globe! So if you are interested in the program and would like to enroll in our scholarship program, please apply here.

Capstone California Wine Certification Program

Advanced Level 3 | 50 Hours | US$975

The Advanced Level 3 course builds on Levels 1 and 2 with 50 hours of curriculum, consisting of more rigorous tasting requirements and theory covering additional detail about the topics introduced in previous levels as well as introducing new concepts, including:

  • California’s wine history: establishment of missions, introduction of vitis vinifera in California, the Gold Rush, late nineteenth-century expansion, Prohibition, post-WWII, the 1960s boom, the return of phylloxera and the age of the wine critic.
  • The Winkler index: U.C. Davis degree day system and its pros and cons.
  • Soil types commonly found in California; soil balance and health; sustainable and organic farming; organic certifications.
  • Viticulture and clonal selection of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel.
  • Sparkling and rosé wines.
  • Advanced viticultural concepts of rootstocks (vigor and disease resistance), grafting, phylloxera and other vineyard pests, dry farming vs. irrigation.
  • In-depth exploration of AVAs/wine regions, including: Lake County, Solano County, San Benito County, Santa Clara County, Amador County, El Dorado County, San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley, Madera County and Temecula Valley.

More information about this level COMING SOON.

Our goal is to create an accessible course for as many interested trade professionals as possible around the globe! So if you are interested in the program and would like to enroll in our scholarship program, please apply here.


Capstone California Wine Certification Program (CCWE)

Expert Level 4 | 125 Hours | US$3,750

The Expert Level 4 course covers 125 hours of curriculum, designed for students with a serious commitment to the understanding of California wine. In this course, students must complete a demanding set of tasting requirements and:

  • Follow a detailed chronology of California wine from the late eighteenth century to the present, that introduces influential wine figures that played crucial roles in key historic events and dates.
  • Learn about secondary rivers and lakes in California wine regions including Clear Lake and the San Joaquin River.
  • Learn how climate change is affecting viticulture in California and what vineyard/winery owners are doing to mitigate it.
  • Conclude the discussion on Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah with a review of winemaking techniques and wine and food pairings.
  • Explore additional white wine grape varieties (Pinot Gris, Muscat, Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Viognier), as well as additional red wine grape varieties (Petite Sirah, Malbec, Barbera, Petit Verdot and Grenache).
  • Continue the exploration of California's AVAs/wine regions, including Placer County, Nevada County, Calaveras County, Yuba County, Los Angeles County, Cucamonga Valley, San Diego County and others.
  • Conduct a comprehensive study of the best vintages in the last 20 years for Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Lodi, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County.

Those who achieve the Expert Level of the Capstone California Wine Certification program will be awarded the opportunity to participate in an immersive, educational wine tour of California and to pursue the Ambassador Level 4 certification.

More information about this level COMING SOON.

Our goal is to create an accessible course for as many interested trade professionals as possible around the globe! So if you are interested in the program and would like to enroll in our scholarship program, please apply here.


Capstone California Wine Certification Program (CCWA)

Ambassador Level 4 | 125 Hours with an Immersion Trip to California | US$4,250

The Ambassador Level 4 course is designed for those seeking to build critical knowledge and to be a thought leader in California wine. To achieve this top certification, a student needs to complete an in-person educational program in California consisting of: “Train the Trainer” sessions, blind tastings, vineyard/winery visits and a written exam, all led by a team of prominent wine educators, Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine. Certified California Wine Ambassadors are qualified to teach all levels of the Capstone California Wine Education course and lead seminars on California wines around the world.

More information about this level COMING SOON.