Changyu to double wine schools teaching WSET


China’s biggest winemaking company, Changyu, is set to double its wine education presence in 2016.

Image source: Changyu Pioneer Wine Training School
Image source: Changyu Pioneer Wine Training School

The Chinese winemaker, which recently purchased Bordeaux Supérieur Château Mirefleurs from the Castel group, intends to double the number of its ‘Changyu Pioneer Wine Training School’ in China to 16 by the end of 2016, the firm said during Chengdu Food and Drinks Fair last week.

Both Changyu employees and consumers can sign up to study Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) level one and two courses with the producer.

Besides specialised educational agencies, many of these APPs are wine importers, distributors and local producers, as wine education is increasingly considered as a useful tool for not only marketing, but also the sales force.

‘Currently we don’t use Changyu wines for our WSET courses, unless it’s required by students,’ said Vincent Zhao, executive president of the Changyu wine school. ‘We will work in line with the WSET regulations.’

Changyu’s wine school was approved as an APP in July 2015, joining its fellow producer COFCO’s (Great Wall) ‘Wine Academy’. Changyu has since established eight ‘wine schools’ by the end of 2015.

Wine courses will mainly be conducted in Changyu’s local stores and wine estates, said Zhao.

All managers of Changyu’s local stores will be required to pass WSET level two exams, said the company.

‘Education is the key’ to the success in the Chinese market, said Bruno Baudry, CEO of ASC Fine Wines during the Chengdu Food and Drinks Fair. The importer recently made WSET level two certificates a must for its sales force.

‘Anyone in the sales team without a WSET level 2 (certificate) will be let go,’ said the CEO, ‘we have to be as professional as we can.’

In the academic year 2014/2015, a total of 13,365 students from Greater China sat for a WSET qualification, said the London-based institution.

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