Premier Wine Education at Miami’s Florida Wine Academy
Located on the 14th floor of a high-rise office building in Downtown Miami is a small, unassuming office that is home to an organization busy revolutionizing the way that South Floridians and others throughout the Southeast United States receive wine education. Florida Wine Academy, founded by Alessandra Esteves and her husband, Guilherme de Macedo, is a small operation by business standards, but one doing big work in the wine industry throughout Miami and beyond.
Founded in 2016, Florida Wine Academy has grown significantly over the years to become the premier wine education institution in South Florida, and it has been influential in growing the wine culture emerging in the city and surrounding areas.
From annual events such as Miami Champagne Week each October, to the largest wine conference in the Southeast United States — VinoSummit — Alessandra and her team have been working hard behind the scenes to create opportunities for consumers and industry professionals who want to learn more about wines, meet winemakers and explore regions. This is achieved by offering opportunities for wine enthusiasts, hobbyists, industry leaders and even restaurant sommeliers educational materials. These come in the form of WSET certifications, masterclasses, seminars and regional specialty courses. Truly a one-stop-shop for wine lovers in Miami, the Florida Wine Academy now even offers unique and hard-to-find wines for sale through their online store, 305 Wines.
What is so remarkable about the Florida Wine Academy and the people behind it is that the business started from scratch in a tropical “cocktail city” far from any traditional wine region, and yet it has found huge success in a young and hungry wine market.
Alessandra Esteves, From Hobbyist Wine Writer to Director of Wine Education
Alessandra’s story began like many wine lovers’ journey through wine. She was a young corporate attorney who discovered a passion for wine as she and her husband lived in different places across Europe. When they would travel and experience nearby wine regions, her interest in studying and reading about wine turned into more of a hobby of writing about the subject. After the family moved back to Brazil, she decided to focus on her kids and took a leave from law.
It was then that she created a wine blog and later, founded the most successful podcast about wine in Brazil called Dama do Vinho. She wrote and published regional wine guides and completed much of her Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) training abroad but needed to finish her Diploma in the United States. After many trips back and forth between the U.S. and her home in Guatemala at the time, Alessandra successfully earned her WSET Diploma and was ready to enter her new industry as a wine educator.
As frequent visitors to Miami, Alessandra and her husband were fond of the city and recognized it as a place they wanted to raise their children. They also noticed a gap in the market in the area of wine educational institutions. With their dream to spread wine education throughout South Florida, Alessandra and her family moved to Miami and opened Florida Wine Academy in May of 2016.
South Florida’s Premier Wine Educational Institution
Florida Wine Academy now offers certifications and wine classes at its Downtown Miami location as well as various offsite events. At the Academy, wine enthusiasts and professionals can take courses to earn WSET certifications as well as their French Wine Scholar certificate and Sake Sommelier designation. In fact, Sake professionals studying at Florida Wine Academy are fortunate enough to be taught by the first and only Master Sake Sommelier in the United States — Alessandra’s husband — General Manager and Co-Founder of the Academy Guilherme de Macedo. In addition, there is one full-time staff member and five qualified instructors who teach the many available courses.
“We are seeing a growing interest in Sake education, both from professionals and consumers. People want to learn the styles and how to pair sake with food.” – Alessandra Esteves, Director of Wine Education, Florida Wine Academy
Along with earning formal certifications, wine enthusiasts can brush up on their knowledge through weekly masterclasses, seminars and labs that range in topics from regional profiles, to winery specific vertical tastings and more casual wine & cheese pairing events. The school has quickly become the leader in wine education in the state, and every event they host is centered around providing an educational connection to wine for their students.
Miami Champagne Week
Each year in October since 2016, Florida Wine Academy hosts Miami Champagne Week, which is a multi-day celebration of bubbly from Champagne, France. The events are geared towards consumers, and each offers wine lovers an opportunity to learn, drink, and have fun with a focus on Champagne. During the seminars, attendees are given the chance to taste through Champagnes worth hundreds of dollars as they are introduced to production techniques, styles and houses — often taught by a Master of Wine or Master Sommelier.
“Florida is the second largest market for sparkling wines in the U.S., and it made sense to create a week to celebrate Champagne in Miami. We are also big fans of Champagne,” notes Alessandra.
Miami Champagne Week also hosts entertaining events like a walk-around tasting through the Wynwood Walls district with an artist, where Champagne is paired with artwork and local bites. Every year, the events are more widely attended as Florida Wine Academy continues to build on the successes of Miami Champagne Week in the local community.
Winetraveler Tip: Plan your South Florida vacation around Miami Champagne Week! Check the website for the schedule of events each year during October.
Touted as the only wine conference in the Southeast United States, Florida Wine Academy is also the founder of VinoSummit, returning for its second annual event on March 8th and 9th, 2020. The day-long conference was such a major hit in 2019, the organizers decided to expand to two days to accommodate the growing interest of this comprehensive professional wine conference.
The event in 2020 will have 10 seminars, many of them led by four different Master Sommeliers, a sparkling wine networking hour on the first day, and a walk-around grand tasting on the second. VinoSummit is open to trade, wine students and serious enthusiasts. Learn more on the VinoSummit website.
In addition to the growing number of educational opportunities founded and led by Florida Wine Academy, the company also created an online wine shop where consumers can find unique bottles and one of the largest Sake selections in the United States. Specially curated selections of wine are available for holidays such as Thanksgiving or arranged by varietal, like a Riesling wine pack, which includes three bottles of Riesling from Germany and Alsace. This helps make it easy for adventurous wine connoisseurs to learn about different bottles without having to choose for themselves.
“305Wines is our online wine shop focused on unique and hard-to-locate producers and styles. We also created wine packs to help client’s advance their palates, compare varietals, and even prepare for tasting exams,” says Alessandra.
305Wines.com also offers free delivery to customers in the Downtown Miami, Brickell, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and Edgewater neighborhoods of Miami, allowing local wine lovers and visitors alike to sit back, relax, and wait for their bottles of wine to arrive on their doorstep without excessive shipping fees. On top of door-to-door service for wine lovers in Miami, 305Wines.com also delivers to states where it is allowed.
Winetraveler Tip: Check the 305wines.com website for updated Wine Packs with specialty themes like “Biscayne Wine Pack,” “South Point Wine Pack,” or “Around the World with Chardonnay.” Each pack is curated by wine professionals to ensure the highest quality wines that are often hard to find.
In the world of wine education, Florida Wine Academy has been a pioneer in South Florida and in the Southeast. Wine lovers and trade professionals who call Miami home and those who visit the Magic City and surrounding area can easily find a class, event, or special bottle through this organization, providing education and entertainment as they continue along their wine journey. Get in touch with the academy below for more information and upcoming events.
1 SE 3rd Ave Suite #1440, Miami, FL 33131