The Cleveland Wine School is Now Known As the American Wine School


The Cleveland Wine School was founded by Marianne Frantz, a Certified Wine Educator and Diploma candidate of the WSET program in London. In addition to teaching, Marianne has produced culinary events across the US and in France with the world's top chefs and winemakers. Guest lectures at the school include noted winemakers, wine writers and visiting Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine. This was the Cleveland Wine School's  website. Cleveland Wine School ​has evolved and is now known as The American Wine School which still maintains its headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio.​Whether you know a little or a lot about wine, American Wine School as did its former iteration, Cleveland Wine School, provides a systematic approach that can help you build your wine knowledge. For consumers and professionals alike, American Wine School offers an internationally recognized program of study through its affiliation with the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Currently, this program is offered in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Chicago, with plans to expand.


There's no better place to learn about wine than from the source. Cleveland Wine School offers exclusive access to some of the top vineyards and chateaux in the world. Visits include tutored-tastings, blending sessions, winery tours, vineyard walks and private cellar dinners Upcoming travel destinations include Sonoma, Napa and Bordeaux.

Having attended her classes while I was living in Cleveland, I can attest that they were informative as well as fun. Now that I live in New York City, I make great use of the knowledge I accumulated from her classes whether I am enjoying a grewat meal at one of NYC's myriad restuarants or just sipping a glass of a smooth and supple Rhone Red Blend from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France such as a Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2013 or celebrating with a Antinori Solaia 2008, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Tuscany, Italy. Thank goodness I was living in NYC when we had an accident involving a spilled bottle of pinot noir during a dinner party, a while back. Our Siamese cat knocked the bottle over onto an antique oriental carpet. Fortunately a guest at the party knew of a great expert local carpet cleaning in NYC company that specializes in oriental carpets. We cleaned up the spill as best we could that evening and the next day a principle from My Home Carpet Cleaning NYC came by to inspect the damage. He assured us that they would be able to remove the stain. A week later the oriental rug was returned looking like new. We have continued using this rug cleanng company ever since, not just for accidents, but for the yearly cleaning of all our rugs. So I raise my glass of Antinori Solaia 2011 to the folks at My Home Carpet Cleaning NYC, for your expertize and professionalism and also to Marianne Frantz, founder of the Cleveland Wine School.


Understanding Wine

Whether you know a little or a lot about wine, the Cleveland Wine School can help you build your wine knowledge. The curriculum begins with the basics: how to taste wine and identify flavors. Classes continue grape-by-grape, country-by-country to give tasters a well-rounded knowledge of wine. Events and travel excursions offer informative and entertaining experiences.

Relaxed Classroom Setting

Systematic approach to understanding wine. Classes incude a lecture, customized text and tutored tasting of four to eight wines. Held in various locations across the city including the Marriott Downtown at Key Center, Viking Culinary Center at Legacy and Vue restaurant in Hudson.

Events and Tastings

Cleveland Wine School offers a wide range of special events that are fun, informative and focus on food and wine. For listings, visit the events page on this site.

Travel Experiences

There's no better place to learn about wine than from the source. Cleveland Wine School offers exclusive access to some of the top vineyards and chateaux in the world. Visits include tutored-tastings, blending sessions, winery tours, vineyard walks and private cellar dinners Upcoming travel destinations include Sonoma, Napa and Bordeaux.


Marianne Frantz: Founder, Cleveland Wine School


Marianne Frantz, founder of the Cleveland Wine School and a certified wine educator, didn’t set out in life to become a wine expert and entrepreneur, but today her school offers about 8-10 classes per month on everything from wine 101 to advanced courses for pros in the food and wine industries.

Frantz estimates that since the school opened, she has helped more than 1500 students taste their way to greater appreciation of wine.

Here she shares highlights of her story with Ladies Who Launch:

Eclectic Career – From Chemistry to Theatre to Corporate Events

“I originally was a chemistry teacher, a high school chemistry teacher, so my passion for teaching and education has always been there. I taught in Ohio for a couple of years before moving to New York. I always had the desire to go to New York. One year when I was off from teaching for the summer, I started working at non-profit theaters off Broadway, where they normally put eager young people in charge of doing events.”

Meeting Chefs Before They Became Famous

“I ended up staying in New York – I did the opening party for Miss Saigon on Broadway for Time-Warner. I did a lot of theatrical special events until I finally landed with a marketing agency producing food and wine events for American Express Platinum members. This was before chefs were TV celebrities, so I was able to do events with chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Jacques Pepin… events that would be impossible today (because of the expense of hiring celebrity chefs).”

The Moment When She Knew – Wine Would Be Her Future

“What kept me in food and wine is that people in the industry are very passionate and kind to one another. I think the whole commonality of wanting to wine and dine together puts everyone on the same level, at the same comfort level. I did one very exclusive tour in Bordeaux where a wine writer introduced me to some of the top chateaux owners of the world. That’s when I knew – I knew that wine was going to be my career. I started studying wine at the International Wine Center in New York.

“I left the marketing agency in 1997 to produce wine events on my own, and one of my major clients at the time was Windows on the World (restaurant in The World Trade Center). With Andrea Immer (master sommelier, popular wine author and TV personality), I did a fabulous Bordeaux tour for club members there.”

Returning Home to Ohio

“My husband was transferred to Cleveland, and I grew up in Dayton, but I continued working in Manhattan until 9/11. After that, I went to Cleveland to figure out what to do next.”

Cold Calling a Master Sommelier

“If you want to get ahead in the world of wine, you want to study under a master of wine or Master Sommelier, so I went online to see if I could find one locally here in Ohio, and I discovered John Unger in Parma, Ohio. I called him and said, ‘You have absolutely no idea who I am, but I’m very interested in pursuing a business in wine and I’d like to take you to lunch.'”

Starting Her Wine School

“I talked with him about my idea of starting a wine school in Cleveland, and he absolutely jumped on board. Classes for our wine school went on sale in November 2002. But that fall, John developed Leukemia, and by January he was gone. Here I was completely entrenched in a wine school… it was a sink-or-swim introduction to teaching wine.

“I started out teaching classes of 12 – now we have three locations with about 50 people in each class. Now we have a whole series that people sign up for. We have expanded to do wine dinners and food and wine pairings. We have doubled in size every year for three years.”

Self-Funding = Slow Growth

“I did it the hard way. I self-funded my business, and I grew with the amount my business generated. I set a limit on the amount of personal debt I would go into for the business. I did not purchase anything until the funds were there to do it. Three and a half years later, my business is completely debt-free. Looking back, I can see this probably slowed the growth of the business, but it also allowed me to manage the growth.”

Wine Etiquette for Business Occasions

“In addition to doing consumer classes, we have become one of a handful of approved providers for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust – they are the people who have classes that are preparatory courses for a Master of Wine degree. Also, financial institutions and law firms are asking us to do business dining and etiquette seminars – how to order at a restaurant when the wine list arrives. It’s important for young lawyers who are taking clients out to know these things.”

Greatest Challenge

“I think the greatest challenge (with the wine school) is going to the next level, rolling (the business) out in a bigger way. I’m at the point in my business where you almost have to take a couple steps back to move a couple steps forward. If your plate is too full and you don’t free something up, you don’t have the ability to move forward. My challenge is saying ‘no’ to the things that I’ve been able to say ‘yes’ to in the past. Smaller jobs that I appreciated three years ago, but can’t do now.”

Greatest Success

“Most rewarding for me is being able to bring wine down off a pedestal. Getting people to understand that it’s not high-brow – everyone has a palate, everyone can taste. Unfortunately wine critics have placed (wine expertise) in the hands of a few – there’s this impression that only (people like wine expert) Robert Parker can decide if a certain wine is good.”

Key Lesson Learned

“I quickly within the first year learned that if you are going to be successful, you can’t do it by yourself. You have to look around your circle and partner with people who can help you market whatever you’re promoting. I tried to launch a wine tasting series, but no one knew who I was. To get credibility, I teamed up with the Ritz-Carlton, which immediately put me in the circle that I wanted to be in. If you want to look good, surround yourself with really good people.”

Source of Her Business Savvy

“Much to my parents’ chagrin, I think my business savvy came from my days working in summer stock theatre. There’s a lot of guerilla marketing that goes on in summer stock. Unlike someone who works in a large corporation who comes up with an idea and passes it to someone else, in summer stock, if you come up with the idea, you’re doing the idea. I worked in summer stock every summer for years, and that gave me experience getting my hands dirty and rolling up my sleeves, which is how I run my business.”

Words of Advice – Reassure Yourself

“A lot of times when you’re on your own, no one’s going to be as passionate as you are. In that same vein, no one will be as nervous or concerned as you are. In my office, I made sure I hung every photo that I had with every famous chef and every wine person, so that when I got nervous about starting the wine school, I would look up and say to myself, ‘Of course you can do this.'”

What Wines to Serve during Summertime

“Three wines that come to mind immediately that are perfect summertime quaffers for patio sipping…

– Any New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As of 2001, they all have screw caps, which is fun. It’s the best closure for wine that is going to be consumed within three years. It has high acidity and pairs well with food.

– Another one of my favorites is Vinho Verde. It’s light with just a spritz of bubbles. It’s low in alcohol, which is particularly nice if you’re hosting a business function.

– Prosecco, an Italian sparkler. It has a tiny bit of sugar on the finish, and is low in alcohol. It’s my favorite of all-time summer starter wines, and great as an aperitif.

– For red lovers right now, try New Zealand Pinot Noir. It’s fruity, spicy and aromatic.