Rüdiger Eilers, Director of Education at New York’s The Sommelier Society of America sharing some Stölzle love with students from their most recent wine education class. The SSA was founded in 1954 and is exclusively based in New York City. We do not offer our certification course or advanced tasting workshops outside the city. Instead of multiple levels, the SSA certification program covers a broad foundation, and their deductive tasting method is compatible to what is taught in the WSET Level 4 and CMS Advanced programs.
The SSA does not require any prerequisite courses to enter their programs where they discuss every major wine region on the planet, review current market trends that are relevant to sales as well as train their students on notable and challenging vintages.
If you’re in the New York City area and are interested in upping your knowledge of wines and networking with other kindred spirits, you can find out more information on their various programs by visiting their website:
1. Can you give us a brief background on the Sommelier Society of America? When did it start and why? What are its goals? What type of people make up your students – are they industry professionals or simply people interested in wine?
The Sommelier Society of America was founded in 1954 in New York City by a group of sommeliers that wanted to socialize within their cadre; they also wanted to be recognized as uniquely accomplished wine professionals. By creating this professional organization for sharing and exchanging wine knowledge, they also increased the value of their position, their wages and tips. As the Society’s membership grew, they formalized wine education into courses for sommeliers to advance their careers, passionate consumers began taking the courses. Today, mostly industry professionals take our Course, but every session we always have students who are looking for a career change or have a love of wine and want to learn more and be around those who share their passion.
2. What kinds of subjects will students from your program become familiar with?
We cover every wine production region on the planet, with lectures, presentations and benchmark wine selections – all instructed by working sommeliers and wine professionals – nothing is left out of our 23 week Course!
3. During the pandemic, have you had to adjust your learning or make changes to your curriculum?
We had just begun the spring 2020 session when everything shut down; we asked our students if they would like to continue in a virtual classroom, and they did, so we set that up immediately. Fortunately our schedule coincided with phase three of the reopening and we were able to hold in person tasting classes with safety protocols strictly in place. We also worked with our partners to provide a virtual wine tasting. Everyone came together to continue to provide the highest level of wine education. Currently we are in our third session on virtual classes, with great success. In fact we will continue to offer a virtual option for those who cannot attend in person.
4. What impact has working with Stolzle had on the overall experience of your students?
Introducing Stolzle glassware to our students has been an enormously beneficial part of wine education. Right from the first day of class we have all Stolzle glassware samples and decanters displayed. It’s inspiring. Then to taste wines throughout the session further established the significance of glassware and how it enhances the tasting experience.
5. How can people find out more about the Sommelier Society of America?
We are in session virtually all year long, so we are always available to answer any questions about our Course. Visit our website or our posts on social media:
@sommsociety on Instagram
Facebook: The Sommelier Society of America
This time Jay's pick is just a little bit unusual, so you'll definitely want to hear what Jay has to say on this one!
Be sure to check out one of our sister companies
Stoelzle Glass Group