Adapting to Online Wine Education During COVID-19: An Interview with Dr. Keith Herndon

Dr. Keith Herndon is an expert in journalism, an accomplished media industry leader, professor and a wine enthusiast. We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Herndon about his wine journey and how COVID-19 changed his teaching and online learning experience this year.

Q: Where did your passion of wine come from?

I never had any formal education process for wines, instead, I started by visiting wineries in California because we had family there. We visited many different wineries in Northern California, Sonoma, Napa, etc. I realized that I enjoyed wine many years ago when we sampled different wines from many different wineries.

Q: How did the pandemic change your perspective of online learning?

When the pandemic hit this year, I wanted to do more online training and education. As a professor, I was pivoting to online teaching, so I wanted to see how many other organizations were also doing their online courses.

I wanted to see how online education worked in an industry setting and I was interested in learning more about wine online, so it was perfect to combine the idea of learning about how online education worked with one of my passions (wine).

Q: One of the many online wine courses that Dr. Herndon took was APWASI’s Wine Essentials 1 Class. Was there something that you enjoyed about the Wine Essentials 1 Course?

I really enjoyed it. Dr. Lee has an interesting approach to integrate videos with the course material. The course has his personality in it, which is visible through his writing.

The material was well organized and the videos were great. APWASI’s courses are designed to be very practical. The courses are aimed not only for individuals who want to enter into the wine industry, but there are also many takeaways for wine enthusiasts. It was a good balance for a consumer and practical knowledge.

The courses have been very beneficial for me, and I have more insights that translate into great gifts. I plan on doing the Wine Essentials 2 and Champagne courses next.

Q: How would you describe your passion of wine and its journey?

As a journalist, I see every bottle of wine as a story. The opening/lead is the color, aroma or label on the wine – it’s what encourages you to drink it. The texture/style of wine is the body of the story. How it finishes in your mouth is the conclusion of story.

Wine is joy in a bottle. You can learn a lot about culture, how people celebrate, history, all by studying wine. It’s not studying if it’s something you really like it.

Q: Where did your passion for wine arise from? Was there a moment where you remember your wine journey starting?

Definitely! I attended an industry conference in San Francisco and as a part of it, we had an opportunity to attend a luncheon in a wine cave in Napa, called Merryvale. It was an amazing experience. It was in a dark wine cave, with giant wine barrels along both side of the room. The luncheon was candlelit and I was just taken by the atmosphere and experience. That’s the moment that I remember as starting my wine journey and my passion to learn more about wines. This experience was really etched into my memories for wine. Every time I go back to Napa, we always visit Merryvale Winery.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for students who are learning about wine?

If you don’ take wine too seriously and just allow it to be a fun part of your life, that’s what wine to me is all about. I’m not diminishing wine training, but I think the intent of wine is to make us happy, to compliment our food, to be our good friend or companion. I encourage any students who are studying wine, to be studying wine as a joy.

Q: Do you have a favorite bottle of wine?

I don’t have one because I don’t want to give up on the quest for the best. My favorite is Cabernet Franc for Red Wine. Chenin Blanc from South Africa is my favorite white wine. I also have to mention my love for Australian wines.

We thank Dr. Herndon for sharing his online wine learning experience with us. If you would also like to take a course with APWASI, check out the link here.