The Napa Valley Wine Academy launches its inaugural wine program this month with classes that bring students out of the standard classroom and into winery and food centers that place them closer to the subject matter at hand.

“The Napa Valley Wine Academy stems from our belief that there is no better place to learn about wine than in the heart of Napa Valley, America’s pre-eminent wine region,” said Chris Oggenfuss, founder and chief educational officer. “Combine this belief with our instructors, who not only teach, but live and breathe the subject matter of wine, and you have a recipe for student success.”

Instructors are industry professionals who use hands-on activities to inspire wine enthusiasts, and interactive learning techniques to help students studying for wine certification classes.

A range of classes and wine certification courses are offered. The two- to three-hour “Basics” classes are ideal for wine country visitors, those just entering the wine business and general enthusiasts. There are also a series of “Beyond the Basics” classes. The classes are held in the evenings and weekends and range in cost from $75 to $115.

The Napa Valley Wine Academy is an approved provider of the internationally recognized Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certification courses, Levels 1 through 3.

Certain classes will be offered in Spanish and German.

Napa Valley Wine Academy founder and partners:

• Christian Oggenfuss, AIWS, WSET-Certified, is a second-year Master of Wine student with the Institute of Masters of Wine in London and holds the Level 4 Diploma from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Oggenfuss brings 20 years of wine experience to wine education as a marketer and brand-builder for premium wine brands. He has also successfully launched wine-related businesses in Switzerland and traveled extensively to all major wine regions in Europe and North America.

• Catherine Seda, AIWS, is lead educator and partner, and holds the Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the WSET. She is an international wine accounts manager at Balzac Communications in Napa, sits on the St. Helena Star and Napa Valley Vintners tasting panel, and writes monthly wine columns for local and international publications.

• Jürg Oggenfuss, WMD, CSW, is lead educator, partner and Christian’s father. He attended the Wädenswil School of Oenology, graduating with the “gold” Wine Merchant Diploma. After a successful wine retail career, he works at Joseph Phelps Vineyards as a distinguished wine educator and education coordinator as well as host for VIPs. He holds the Level 3 Certificate with Distinction from the WSET, and is fluent in Schwiizer dütsch (Swiss-German), German, French, Italian, Spanish and English.

For more information or to sign up for the Napa Valley Wine Academy newsletter, visit


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