By Andrea Stuart
Most of us wine lovers can probably extract the exact time and place in which we first met that
sultry libation. For Master Sommelier David Glancy, founder of the San Francisco Wine School
(SFWS), it was a meet-cute with a Vouvray demi-sec during his first trip to France at age sixteen.
Since first immersing in the restaurant industry at age fifteen, Glancy has procured several
credentials, including Master Sommelier, Certified Wine Educator, and Certified Specialist of
Spirits, each of which has served his current purpose.
In 2011, Glancy launched the SFWS in an effort to expound upon the wine knowledge that wine
enthusiasts had already obtained while also providing focused curriculums for students who desire
more in-depth exploration. More than a credentialing body, SFWS provides continuing education as
well as fundamentals for individuals seeking careers in or related to the wine industry.
After operating and teaching wine programs across the country from Cordon Bleu to the former
Professional Culinary Institute (PCI), Glancy observed an underserved market and aimed to fill that
gap. “While I was proud of what I created at PCI, I wanted to provide educational programs that
help students with their wine careers, not just the exams,” he explains. “It was clear that some
graduates had no intention of working as sommeliers, but this was their best educational option.
There was also a demand and need for continuing education after the Certified Sommelier exam.”
Glancy knew that an independent wine school would have more focus and give higher priority to wine
education than a culinary school
Unlike other industries, there are no legal requirements
for a sommelier. As such, many people are confused by what Glancy calls “wine credential blur.”
There are at least a dozen sommelier credentialing bodies or schools that offer their own sommelier
programs. SFWS provides career-based training and bridges educational gaps where no certification
body currently exists. In addition to becoming a Certified Wine Specialist (CWS), students can
refine their knowledge by obtaining specialized certifications such as French Wine Scholar (FWS)
and California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) among others.
Glancy recognizes there is a delicate balance required between on-the-job-training and formal
education. “We emphasize the importance of work experience, volunteering, networking, reading,
travel, wining and dining in addition to everything we provide in the classroom,” he adds. “The
industry is getting more competitive every day, and formal education will give workers an edge.”
SFWS has opened the educational door to more than just sommeliers. Restaurant, hotel, wine bar and
tasting room managers, as well as waiters, bartenders, chefs, wine educators, sales executives, and
other culinary and beverage-related professionals can now refine their crafts. And it’s all part of
a larger community effort. “We have also donated our time, wine, and efforts to charity events for
Guide Dogs for the Blind, St. Anne Parish, the Olympic Club Foundation, Les Dames d’Escoffier,
American Institute of Wine & Food, and the SF-Marin Food Bank to name a few.”
In an industry worth more than $250 billion, the wine world is begging for more wine specialists
with focused core values. You need not insure your nose for one million dollars in order to secure
a wine career. It seems the recipe for success begins with a passion
for libations and food followed by a desire to learn.