15 professionals from the world of wine travel from China to visit the DOCa Rioja this week. The applicants to become certified as ‘Official Rioja Ambassadors’ will spend a week in the Wine Region to complete their ‘educators’ course, a programme launched by the Control Board in 2016 which already has almost 60 certified educators from 19 countries.
The Official Rioja Wine Educators Programme will welcome more than 45 professionals from around the world in 2018. New this year is that two countries (Spain and China) will have their own groups, as in previous programmes both represented more than 60% of total registration. The third group will consist of candidates from the rest of the world.
This week, the DOCa Rioja Control Board was visited by the first contingent of the third group of students in the Official Rioja Wine Educators Programme, the international training course for official educators whose qualifications are based on online theory classes as well as practical training, rounded off with a visit to the region. On this particular occasion, 15 aspiring Chinese educators, with broad experience in the sector, enjoyed learning about the culture and values of Rioja in the Region itself.
“The initiative aims to attract professionals with communication skills and an ability to influence in the main wine consuming countries to work as Board approved educators,. thereby guaranteeing the quality and accuracy of the knowledge they transmit about the wines and experiences offered by Rioja,” says Fernando Salamero, president of the organisation, who considers the initiative has had very positive feedback. This is the third course of a programme that has previously produced 60 certified educators in 19 countries.
This third course was once again very selective when it came to admitting candidates. As in the first two courses, the more than 300 candidates all showed extensive professional and training experience in the wine world. The Control Board and its advertising agencies in its main markets jointly select candidates based on their CVs and communication skills. Candidates need to have at least two years’ professional experience in the world of wine in one of the following areas: marketing, education and sommellierie, as well as wine retail sales and wine distribution. Educators will be able to organise training activities on their own or together with the Control Board or Rioja wineries and importers. Certificates are valid for 4 years. To renew them, the Educators will have to meet certain requirements, including a minimum number of courses, for which they will be able to issue diplomas to their pupils endorsed by the Control Board.
Tu Xu, a student of the course, says that “the experience is very satisfactory and the best way to know and learn the values and culture of Rioja is through this immersion in the Region, spending time with its people, whose generosity and authenticity are undoubtedly their true wealth.”
China, one of the main emerging markets for Rioja wine sales, occupies a privileged fifth position in world sales. In 2017, Rioja sales rose by almost 18%, confirming the potential of this market. Spain currently occupies fourth place international wine suppliers to China, according to figures from the Spanish Wine Market Observatory.