VIA MANIFESTO – Vinitaly International

Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) is the first certification available for Italian wine lovers and professionals, run by world-renowned wine experts and backed by the professional and organizational skills of Vinitaly, the world’s largest wine fair. Given the great diversity of Italian grapes and terroirs (334 DOCs, 74 DOCGs and over 500 native grape varieties), there is often little standardization in what wine writers and educators say and oftentimes the information offered is neither precise nor accurate.

VIA was created by Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International, beacuse of her belief that education is the key to broadcasting the great diversity and richness of Italian wine in a more accurate and scientifically rigorous manner. With this intent, VIA offers standardized courses and different certification levels that enable all those who love Italian wine to speak of it in a unified, organized manner with in-depth knowledge of each specific Italian grape variety, wine and production area. With 50 years experience in the field of Italian and international wines, Vinitaly represents the gold standard for Italian wine culture and business. The vast know-how accumulated over the decades by Vinitaly is supported, transmitted and kept alive by individuals who have worked in the Italian wine industry for a long time, thereby guaranteeing that the Vinitaly International Academy’s wine educational sessions are the state of the art in Italian wine courses.

No other course on Italian wines offers a similar level of knowledge and credibility. VIA’s certification courses had been devised and were taught by the then VIA Scientific Director, Ian D’Agata, for the first 9 editions. As the author of more than ten books and guides on Italian, Ian not only shared his priceless knowledge about Italian native but also lightened the candidates from all over the world with his decades of writing experience on Italian wines.


The certification levels of VIA should not be considered an alternative to the other many excellent educational programs offered around the world, as for example the Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET). These are, instead, strongly recommended and to be considered preparatory to VIA courses.

VIA courses offer candidates the opportunity to further increase their knowledge on Italian wines and the attainment of VIA certifications will provide students with an additional title and greater job opportunities in the wine market.


There are currently three levels of certification.

1. Intermediate level certification – Italian Wine Maestro

The intermediate level course will be taught by Italian Wine Ambassadors (given that successfully passing the educator’s program) and Italian Wine Experts in their country of origin and/or residence. The course is comprehensive and designed to serve also as the stepping stone for the higher level Italian Wine Ambassador Certification course. The Italian Wine Maestro course will be officially rolled out in the fall of 2018.

2. Second level certification - Italian Wine Ambassador (IWA)

3. Third level certification - Italian Wine Expert (IWE)

For the higher levels, VIA courses consist of four days each with six-hour classroom lectures and wine tastings (9.00 -12.00 and 13.30-16.30, with lunch break). These courses will be held both in Verona and abroad. A calendar will be provided at the beginningof each academic year in order to allow all candidates to schedule their trip.

Course content:

-  Ampelology
-  Italian native grapes
-  Wines made from international varieties
-  Specific Italian terroirs
-  Trends and updates in the world of Italian wines
-  Italian wine history


Courses and written exams are the same for both 2nd and 3rd level courses. Sessions will be structured as follows:SECOND LEVEL – ITALIAN WINE AMBASSADOR (IWA Certification)The written exam consists in 100 multiple-choice questions. A passing grade of 75/100 is required.Benefits:
Students who pass the exam will receive a certificate attesting their acquired competences and knowledge of Italian wine. As such they will be in the position to hold courses in their country of origin for wine lovers and to all students who wish to acquire the first level certification (Italian Wine Advocate).Further benefits include:

–  free entry to the next edition of Vinitaly (7 – 10 April 2019)
–  a guided winery tour during Vinitaly
–  free entry to Vinitaly International initiatives in Italy and around the world(OperaWine, Walk Around Tastings, conferences and educational sessions)
a 20% discount on all wines bought on Vinitaly Wine Club (
The Italian Wine Ambassador certification will remain valid for three years. At the end of this term Ambassadors will be required to attend a refresher course.


Candidates wishing to acquire an IWE certification will need to pass both the written test and an oral exam. The written exam consists in 100 multiple-choice questions. A passing grade of 90/100 is required to move forward to the oral exam.
The oral exam consists in two separate questions and a blind tasting of 8 different wines. In the oral exam, potential graduates will be required to identify the grape type and t h e wine in at least five out of eight samples. Therefore, passing the blind tasting does not require identifying all the grape varieties or wines poured blind, but rather a logical analysis of what each wine might be made with and where.

Candidates will receive a certificate attesting their qualification as VIA teachers. As such they will be in the position to hold courses in their country of origin and contribute to the formation of future IWA students.

Further benefits include:

– free entry to the next edition of Vinitaly (7 – 10 April 2018) – guided tour of some

wineries during Vinitaly

– free entry to Vinitaly International initiatives in Italy and around the world

(OperaWine, Walk Around Tastings, conferences and educational sessions)

– a 20% discount on all wines bought on Vinitaly Wine Club (

All lectures and exams are held in English only. Students are required to attend 80% of the lesson hours.



a) Candidates who have failed to pass the oral exam will be able to re-sit the following sessions without having to repeat the course. The course remains valid for maximum two years. Should candidates fail to pass the exam within this time they will be required to follow the course again.

b) IWA certified students who wish to obtain a third level certification can do so by re- sitting the exam during the following sessions without loosing the benefits acquired from their previous level certification.

c) An administrative fee of 100 euro is charged to the candidates that wish to resit the exam.



The Intermediate level certification courses are open to anybody who wish to acquire more knowledge on Italian wines.

The Certification Course for the second and third level is intended for professional sommeliers, industry operators, educators, wine writers, oenologists and wine lovers.

Though holding a WSET diploma is not a strict requirement, it is strongly encouraged for the second and third levels. Nevertheless all candidates are required to have a good knowledge of Italian wine and grape varieties.

All courses and exams will be held in English. It is therefore necessary to have a good knowledge of the English language.



Students of the first level will be selected by Italian Wine Ambassadors and Italian Wine Experts in their country of origin.

The Scientific Committee will select candidates for the Certification Course both in Verona and abroad following criteria that reflect the objectives of the course.

NB: students who successfully complete the Italian Wine Maestro Certification Course are not automatically admitted to the second level certification course. However, should they pass the Maestro Course exam with high grades, they will be considered by the Scientific Committee as potential candidates.



– Native Wine Grapes of Italy (Ian D’Agata, University of California Press) – Italian Wine Unplugged
– Vinitaly International Academy Study Guide
– – additional information from the Federation of DOCs

Certificate candidates are strongly encouraged to taste Italian wines on their own to better prepare for the VIA courses and exam. Attendance of the Executive Wine Seminars organized by the Vinitaly International Academy throughout the year during its stops around the world are also strongly recommended.



During the many Vinitaly International tour stops, VIA runs Executive Wine Seminars (EWS) all over the world specifically devoted to Italian wines. These are divided into three categories: introductory, advanced and focused and all three provide invaluable information and knowledge relative to Italian wines.

The EWSs may be devoted to a generalized overview of Italian wines, or be specifically dedicated to a single wine production area (for example: “The wines of Franciacorta” or “Brunello di Montalcino”) or to wines made from single vineyards (for example: “The Barolos of the Cannubi vineyard”). The EWSs are similar to university laboratories or tutorial classes and have much the same function as individual VIA classes: it is strongly encouraged for certificate hopefuls to attend the EWSs that are organized in their home cities during the annual Vinitaly International tour stops since many of the wines tasted in these sessions will also be present in the final exams. The EWSs provide certificate hopefuls with a chance to taste and learn about wines and grape varieties that may not be readily available in the home countries of course attendees.

Please note: VIA team is currently updating the new version of the manifesto, should the information detailed above conflict with another source, please refer to via staff for the confirmation.

For more information please write to or call 0039 0458101447