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Napa Valley Wine Academy Awards First MW Scholarship

Submitted By: Julie Ann Kodmur, December 15, 2016
Napa, CA, December 15, 2016. The Napa Valley Wine Academy has awarded its first scholarship with the Institute of Masters of Wine for a current student in the Masters of Wine study program this week. Brandon Sparks-Gillis, the co-founder of Dragonette Cellars in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley, has received the first award.

Sparks-Gillis, who is a Stage 2 candidate in the MW program, will receive monies towards fees, tastings, travel and other costs needed for the rigorous program.

Olly Chapman, Head of Study Programme and Development for the Institute of Masters of Wine commented, “On behalf of the Institute of Masters of Wine and all of our U.S.-based students, we are very grateful to the Napa Valley Wine Academy for generously providing a scholarship to a North American-based Master of Wine student. The scholarship will provide support for the majority of the MW Study Programme fees for one year to a Stage 2 student. We were delighted that the Napa Wine Academy reached out to the Institute to offer this scholarship. Over 20% of the total student population for the MW Study Programme are currently based in North America and so we are pleased to find new opportunities to support students based in this geography.”

The scholarship was open to Stage 2 candidates in North America who submitted an essay on: Cabernet Sauvignon: the future of Napa Valley? The judging panel consisted of Christy Canterbury, M.W., Peter Marks, M.W., Tim Hanni, M.W. and Matt Deller, M.W.

Sparks-Gillis commented, “I am honored and thrilled to receive this very generous scholarship. It was a really fun question to explore, and I would like to thank my colleagues in Napa for so graciously sharing their perspectives and helping to shape my view on the subject. Thanks to the Napa Valley Wine Academy for the opportunity, and for their commitment to the MW program and wine education in general.”

Christian Oggenfuss, Director of the Academy, states, “We believe education is the cornerstone to a higher level of hospitality, sales, and service, elevating standards throughout the industry. We see students flourish in their careers as they advance their knowledge through educational courses.”

WSET Scholarships
The Napa Valley Wine Academy also awards four scholarships for the globally recognized Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) courses of study. Two of its four annual scholarships were recently awarded to individuals in Chico and Mill Valley, CA; the scholarships are open to students in all states.

For more information on Academy scholarships, please visit our website.

Five Masters of Wine Educators at the Academy
Five Masters of Wine currently instruct and host webinars at the Napa Valley Wine Academy: Peter Marks, M.W., Christy Canterbury, M.W., Mary Margaret McCamic, M.W., Matt Deller, M.W. and Tim Hanni, M.W.. In addition, Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser holds SommDay Workshops at the Academy.


The Napa Valley Wine Academy offers courses in several of America’s best-known wine markets: Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, California and at Bern’s Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, Florida in addition to locations in Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, Nevada (Las Vegas) and Orlando, Florida.

The Academy headquarters are at 2501 Oak Street, Napa, CA, 94559.

Wine classes include those for enthusiasts such as Wine 101 as well as numerous certification courses for beginners as well as advanced students. The Academy is an Approved Program Provider with The Wine & Spirit Education Trust in London and a private school member of the Society of Wine Educators. We offer the International Wine Professional, American Wine Expert, French Wine Society, and SommDay tasting and service sommelier classes with Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser, among numerous other classes.

Contact: Christian Oggenfuss, (855) 513 9738,,