Bordeaux, best in class.

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The Bordeaux University is one of the country's leading centre of excellence in wine education. First created as an agronomy research station to continue the research Louis Pasteur and managed by his student Ulysse Gayon, it became a faculty of the Bordeaux University in 1916 under  Professor Jean Ribereau-Gayon and Dr Emile Peynaud. Between them over 50 years, they brought the study and science of oenology and viticulture into the 20th century.

In 2009, the  'Faculté d'Œnologie' moved into new premises, becoming the l'Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin Bordeaux Aquitaine (ISVV) creating an «Œnocampus ».

Now with 250 researchers and over 500 students and 160 on further education programmes, the ISVV (Institute of Vine & Wine Science) brings together research, training and technology transfer from their wine sector partners as Inno’Vin cluster, bringing together all the major players in the Bordeaux wine trade..

The Institute offers a wide range of technical education programmes from Bachelor to Master's degree level. Working with Michel Montaigne University, Bordeaux Sciences Agro and Kedge Business school, they cover topics from Plant Biology to Vine & Wine Law and Wine and Spirits  Marketing. The technical facilities include cutting-edge analytical equipment, wineries, tasting rooms, documentary resources and a digital databases of the ISSV's library. 

Not all the education is in French, and not all if it is full time. One of the most famous part time training courses for wine professionals is the DUAD Diplôme Universitaire d'Aptitude à la Dégustation or  University Diploma in Wine-Tasting Expertise. Lasting an academic year on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, it is specifically designed for people working in the wine either in the trade or in production. The theoretical and practical classes cover all aspects of tasting from the vine to wine with analytical tastings.  Although in French, a surprising amount of foreign students join the programme.

They also offer a Licence Professionnelle "Oenotourisme" (Vocational Bachelor’s Degree in Wine Tourism)  a one-year programme in English for future Managers of wine tourism activities from international winemaking or tourism companies.

ISVV also participates in a new Erasmus Mundus (EM) programme on innovation in wine tourism. The two-year "WINTOUR" Master's programme is delivered in English by three European universities, each in UNESCO global heritage wine making region.  The programme is taught at ISVV, University of Porto (Portugal) and University of Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Spain) in turn and covers wine tourism, marketing, winemaking, oenology and wine heritage. The final semester is an internship thanks to a network of private partners who host the students.

There is a plethora of field trips to wine and tourism companies, cultural destinations, wineries/cellars, and regulatory organisations in the three regions. 19 Erasmus+ scholarships are available to cover the entire cost of the programme. 25 students of 19 different nationalities are currently studying from Asia, North and South America, Africa, and Europe, from many different academic and professional backgrounds.

The ISVV also offers more than 23 shorter vocational courses, from tasting, wine making, vine growing, marketing and economics of wine in both French and English. They work closely with the Kedge Business school in Bordeaux offering a Wine and Spirits and a Wine and Hospitality Masters in English as well as continuous professional training in French.

The Bordeaux  university might be the most comprehensive offer but it doesn't have the monopoly on wine training in Bordeaux. Private business schools also offer wine MBAs.

The INSEEC, Institute of Wine & Spirits Marketing & Management, offers a 3-year Wine MBA programme in French and English. You can sign up for just one, two years or all three. The curriculum is delivered in Bordeaux or in Paris and on their London Campus.

They also offer shorter INWine and INSpirits courses in French or English, perfect for a foreign visitor. INWIne A lasts two consecutive days, INWINE B four days certified by a tasting and written exam.

The Vatel Hotel school also has a branch in Bordeaux. It offers an European MBA Degree in International Wine & Spirits, awarded by Eurhodip including the WSET 2 Award in Wines & Spirits and WSET 3 Award in Wines

For sommeliers looking to perfect their skills,  The Bordeaux Chamber of Commercial and Industry' program " Worldsom" now run by Kedge Business School, offers Master classes and short-term training with classes by visiting international specialists and sommeliers. WorldSom Magister (WSM) certifies their 10-week programme in Bordeaux, followed by a 4-week internship. It covers the history, economy and  worldwide geography of wine, as well as the impact of viticulture and oenology on the finished product. Open to sommeliers from around the world, it looks specifically at the importance of the role of the sommelier for the client and wine list management and so much more.

The Ecole du vin de Bordeaux, part of the CIVB (Bordeaux wine council) offers short courses for locals as well as visitors to Bordeaux.  Classes only cover the wines and the region of Bordeaux and range from a two-hour introduction to a day long in depth look at the wines including improving your tasting skills. There are half-day food and wine workshops including wine and cheese and wine and chocolate. An evening class will teach you how to improve your sommelier skills or spend an afternoon and evening with dinner, discovering the Grand Crus Classes from across the region.

Finally La Cite du Vin may not a school but, aside from the innovative permanent and temporary exhibitions on offer they have a range of master classes, tastings and workshops open to the public. All the wine regions of France and the world are included with presentations by wine makers, wine and food workshops including cheese and chocolate and even film projections accompanied by wines inspired by the film being shown.

Of course you can always venture forth into the vineyards. The Best Of Wine Tourism winners in Bordeaux will always be happy to offer the best education experience there is - tasting with the wine makers themselves.

By Wendy Narby