Treasury Wine Estates has set its sights on Latin America and will partner with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas to offer the first master sommelier courses and exams to the trade in the region.
While the region represents only a small market for Treasury - formerly the wine arm of brewer Foster's - the winemaker's sales volume there rose 16 per cent in the first half of the 2013 fiscal year, eclipsing the performance in more traditional and established markets such as North America and Europe.
Treasury said on Thursday the program underscored the increasing importance of the Latin American marketplace to the company, and the region's embrace of new world brands such as Beringer and Penfolds.
Treasury's managing director, Americas, Sandra LeDrew, said: “As a company we are incredibly excited about the growing sophistication of the Latin American consumer and their burgeoning interest in fine wine.
"And our partnership with CMS, the most prestigious and respected wine service accreditation organisation in the world is evidence of just this.
“We are thrilled and honoured to be the first wine company to make this program available to professionals in Latin America who are seeking to advance their wine education. It is these graduates, after all, who will wield an important influence on the Latin American consumer.”
Treasury is using key wine writers, sommeliers and opinion leaders to bolster recognition and brand awareness for its portfolio of wines.
The company, which is the world's largest publicly listed pure wine play, is also weighing up investing further in wine education in China.
The new sommelier program was launched when 48 participants took the introductory sommelier course and exam in March 2013 in Mexico City. All participants were sponsored by TWE.
Treasury and CMS plan to conduct a level II certified sommelier course and exam in Mexico City in the next nine months.