History Of IWEG

Charles Jewett first approached John A. Macdonald with the idea of replicating the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses in Canada. At that time there were no opportunities, outside the L.C.B.O., through which one could acquire either such knowledge or a formal accreditation. Together, they then approached a few like-minded LCBO Product Consultants for support. Jerry Ayling, an ex-LCBO Product Consultant, working in the private sector with McGuiness Distillers Wine division, and Lawrence Mindham, also working in the private sector teaching wine courses at Humber College, were also approached. Education for the wine trade was the goal, and involvement of the private sector was key. John A. Macdonald travelled to the U.K. and approached WSET for permission to bring the courses to Canada. This request was enthusiastically granted and IWEG became the very first programme provider of the WSET programmes outside England. The idea of establishing the Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG) had begun to take shape.

Gerry Ayling, Patrick Counahan, Claudius Fehr, Charles Jewett, John A. Macdonald, Kevin Macdonnell, Lawrence Mindham, Max Moessner and John Tait understood that knowledge is fundamental to fully appreciating wines and spirits and is essential for success in the industry. Under the guidance of Tim Lovelock, WSET Diploma graduate and then manager of “Vines” Wine Bar, they moved ahead with their plan to anchor the WSET programme in Toronto. Charles Jewett's uncle, Mr. Robin McLaughlin, was very helpful with the incorporation of IWEG and the establishment of the not-for-profit status. As Secretary/Treasurer, Max Moessner met with him in his office to execute the necessary documents, paving the way for the most affordable tuition rates possible.
Thus, in 1977 with John A. Macdonald as the first President of the Board of Directors, this small group of determined visionaries established the Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG), planting the seed for educational opportunities for Canadian professionals in the trade as well as for devoted enthusiasts.

When the educational programs commenced, Claudius Fehr and John Macdonald were teaching a substantial portion of the lessons, and others participated with the presentation of one or two subjects. After the Higher Certificate courses were rolled out, Donald Ziraldo of Inniskillin Wines and his winemaker Karl Kaiser were the first representatives of the Ontario wine industry to endorse IWEG. Both participated in presenting lectures, covering wines of Ontario, wine making and viticulture. It was the dedication and co-operation of all participants that contributed to the success and steady growth of IWEG. Soon after a few courses were completed, some of the new graduates stepped forward and became active within the Guild, sharing their knowledge with the next groups of students.

During a trip to London in the fall of 1976, Charles Jewett met with Michael Broadbent MW, who agreed to let IWEG’s membership sit the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) exams in the UK; a privilege granted to IWEG because of the exceptionally high pass rate of our members. This was also a first for IWEG, as previously only members of the British Trade could sit the exams. IWEG unfortunately found it's self light years ahead of the trade, and although we couldn’t take advantage of this opportunity at the time, it is gratifying to see the eventual success of IWEG students in the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Since that time IWEG has grown to meet the demands of the industry and the public. Offering courses in Toronto of the highest quality, IWEG has built a strong base from which to share the knowledge of industry experts and graduates of the programme. The Distance Learning programme is flourishing, bringing valuable information and credentials to students across the nation. To meet growing demand, IWEG established satellite locations from the east coast to the west coast. Eventually a number of new programme providers sprang up creating additional centres for wine and spirit studies in addition to IWEG.

Currently IWEG offers courses in several locations in the Toronto area. In addition, IWEG offers both On-Line and Home Study options through our Distance Learning Programmes.