Where does the idea come from?
Natalia Blahopoluchna and Nikolay Blahopoluchnyi, members of the WTA Advisory Board – the founders of the Ukrainian Association of Winemakers and Sommeliers, as well as the first Sommelier School “Master Class” in Ukraine. The Sommelier School founders worked in the hotel chain “Intourist” (such as “Dnipro” and “Lybid” hotels in Kyiv). But they were hungry for knowledge about wine. Therefore, the variety of training programs in the best hotels of France, Germany, Cyprus was visited. Additionally, they graduated from the Sommelier School in Bordeaux, France, the Hotel and Restaurant Business School in Bavaria, Germany, and the Center of Sensor Analysis (Marche, Italy). The decision to create something similar in Ukraine became a turning point, from which began the time at which the situation started to change in an important way.
Having theoretical and practical training permitted the founders to launch the First Sommelier School in Ukraine and establish the Ukrainian Association of Winemakers and Sommeliers as well as the Association of Cavists. The Sommelier School “Master Class” is the first and the absolute pathbreaker in this field of business in Ukraine. The school was founded in the 2000s, at the time when even the concept of “sommelier” was unknown in Ukraine, so people confused it with the name of the country – Somalia or with the Sauvignon grape variety. Natalia Blahopoluchna and Nikolay Blahopoluchnyi, hotel and restaurant business experts, made their wish a reality and they`ve got a big success. There are more than 1,500 graduates, who are now successful sommeliers, cavists, managers in wine companies and boutiques, some of them even have their own wine businesses.
More than 20 years
Natalia and Nikolay have been teaching for more than 20 years and, at the same time, have been studying the endless world of wine. They permanently visit numerous wine regions, collect soil, unique terroirs, as well as replenish the enoteca with rare wines and the extensive library with multiple specialized books, and, of course, accumulate knowledge. During the educational process at the “Master-class” school, Natalia and Nikolay accompany their students along the wine roads of the world – not only in theory, but also in practice.
The curriculum of “Master Class” 2022
During this difficult war year, the Sommelier School did not stop its activities. Students took courses offline where vivid discussions about Burgundy were led during the sound of sirens outside the window. Lectures were held by candlelight. It gave incredible emotions to the school’s students. “Master Class” continued working online all year long. All students supplement the solid theoretical base with practical tastings as soon as the opportunity arises.
Apart from the traditional curriculum, the Sommelier School was a co-organizer of the Cheese and Wine Festival (Uman, September 18-20, 2022), where a charity auction of wines from the School’s collection was held. The School also conducted consulting and opened new wine boutiques, at the presentation of which charity auctions of its own wines were held as well.
Although this year (2022) has become the most difficult in all 22 years of activity of the Sommelier School, the team keeps working. They keep their spirits up and believe in the best!
Educational wine tours throughout Ukraine and abroad
The school has already organized hundreds of wine tours – to the outstanding wineries from different countries, wine exhibitions and conferences. Students presented their graduation theses by the end of the course. Sometimes these works represent unique studies of the wine-growing regions of the world and the wineries themselves, supported by knowledge gained during the study trips. Students of “Master Class” visited well-known wineries in the Crimea and Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Zakarpattia regions.
The new program “Wine Tourism in Ukraine” was presented in 2007. Other wine tour programs were realized to introduce students to the winemaking of France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, etc.
However, for the founders, wine is not only about learning, but they also see a big prospective in wine in terms of a competition for sommeliers. That is why Natalia and Nikolay Blahopoluchni are organizers of the Ukrainian wine-tasting competition which is called “Variety and Terroir. Microvinification”. The project mission is to discover the Ukrainian potential in terms of winemaking and wine tourism, in particular unique places, varieties, and new names of winemakers.
The ХІХ Ukrainian National Sommelier Contest and the VI Ukrainian National Cavist Contest will be held on November 19-21, 2021. Such professional contests are aimed not only to define the best professionals but provide an opportunity and prospects for the professional growth of its participants.