California Wine Appellation Specialist® Online


Need Help

Virtual Classroom

LEARN THE NUANCES OF CALIFORNIA WINE: A 9-week program to help students master the increasingly complex AVA landscape in California.

California Wine Appellation Specialist® (CWAS) is the first and only in-depth professional credential dedicated to California wine. CWAS® was pioneered by Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator, David Glancy, in 2012 and has since earned the support of Wine Institute and grower associations throughout the state.

This one-of-a-kind program offers students a comprehensive, up-to-date, formal education on all the California wine regions, featuring material that is literally impossible to find from other resources. The topics will deeply enrich enthusiasts' knowledge and are critical to the success of today's wine professionals.

  • Learn the language of California wine labeling
  • Discuss the history and impact of California's American Viticultural Areas
  • Understand California's wine production
  • Analyze the distinctive climates, soils, grapes and wineries of each region that make up the California wine landscape

Session Dates
How do our online wine classes work?
Syllabus Overview
About the Certification & Exam
Enrollment includes
Why is CWAS important


Session 1 November 23, 2015 - February 7, 2016
**No class 12/21/15 - 1/3/16**
Session 2
February 29 - May 8, 2015
Session 3

June 6 - August 21, 2016
**No class 6/27/16 - 7/11/16**

Session 4 September 19 - November 20, 2016

 Also check out our CWAS and CWAS 3-Day Intensive Programs, taking place at our gorgeous new Wine Education Center!



Each week students will tackle a new subject in our virtual classroom, read materials at their own pace, engage in discussions with their instructor and peers, and complete weekly tasting assignments receiving instructor feedback to hone their skills. In addition, students will have access to Virtual Lectures by Master Sommelier David Glancy. 

Personalized Online Instruction
Your industry leading instructor will personally connect with you and your classmates in the virtual classroom, guiding you through the curriculum, answering your questions, providing feedback and taking an active role in the class discussions.

Self-paced learning
Our virtual class materials are designed to accommodate all different learning styles and schedules. Read the slides and articles, listen to lectures, watch the videos, view the maps - pause, skip ahead, go back, jump to a different section – all with the click of a mouse.

Student Interaction
Our online programs are designed to promote engagement with the other members of the class. Students gain a new network of wine professionals and serious enthusiasts from all over the world. In many ways, our online students are more connected than those who meet in a traditional program. Weekly discussions are known to get very lively and because there are no set classroom hours, students engage much more than they would during a traditional class. Some classes even decide to come together from far and wide just to meet in person at the end of the program.

Wine Tasting Assignments 
Each tasting assignment is designed to impart the learning objectives for each region of study and has flexible parameters to allow for differences in wine availability in your area. Get to know your local wine shop, tasting bar, your own cellar, or hit the road to see the region in person! Locating wines that meet the assignment criteria is half the fun and enriches the learning experience. Read the Wine Requirements.

California Wine Appellation Specialist® ONLINE consist of 10 learning modules over a nine week period. Modules cover the following areas:

  • Virtual Classroom Orientation
  • California Wine Labeling & Mendocino
  • Napa Valley
  • Lake & The Sierra
  • Sonoma
  • Santa Cruz, Livermore & Lodi
  • Monterey & San Benito
  • Paso Robles & the Rest of San Luis Obisbo
  • Santa Barbara & Beyond
  • CWAS Credential Exam

Want to learn more about California wine now? Watch Master Sommelier David Glancy in our educational videos filmed for Wine Institute and Discover California Wine. 

Students who score of 80% or higher in the program will be awarded a CWAS certificate and can proudly display the initials CWAS after their name. Program grading is weighted as follows: 85% exam, 5% weekly discussion, 5% weekly tasting assignments, 5% weekly quizzes.

Earning this credential will set you apart in the increasingly competitive wine industry and help you guide your customers through the complex and rapidly changing California wine scene.


  • Exam Fees & Registration
  • 9 weeks of access to our CWAS Online Classroom
  • Certificate upon successful completion


All attendees must be 21+ years

"Italy and France both have internationally recognized certification programs in place to drive interest and celebrate the nuances of their wine regions. If wine students don't have the resources or formal channels to specialize in California wine, it sends the wrong message about California's diverse range of meso-climates, grape varieties, and wine styles", warns Glancy. "To compete with old world imports and fully tap into growing demand for wine, we need to put educational channels in place to properly engage the industry. Competition is only getting more intense."


Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews Write a review


San Francisco Wine School is breathing new energy into the world of wine education by bringing together under one roof the wine topics and credential programs that best prepare students for success, no matter what their career path or personal goal. Founded in 2011 by Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator David Glancy, San Francisco Wine School has quickly grown to be the largest wine school in the country. We strive to offer programs that are relevant to everyone, from students newly embarked on their discovery of wine to the most advanced wine professionals. Our inspired educational programs are taught in our state of the art wine education center and our cutting edge virtual classroom by industry-leading instructors from all major educational disciplines and feature the best content in the business: expert course materials, carefully conceived wine flights, and in-depth blind tasting exercises designed to engage students, illuminate course content and enhance learning.

Stay in Touch