The grand Château de Jalesnes, close to the bucolic town of Vernantes in the Loire Valley of France, is the host location for the Level 2 program of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) from April 3-8, 2017.  Led by Martin Hudson, Master of Wine, wine lovers (that’s you!) will boost their knowledge about our favorite beverage with a formal education. But that’s not all. You will sip outstanding wines from around the world, participate in optional excursions to appreciate the renown Loire Valley, and be inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the Château itself. This is a magnificent example of learning in luxury.

 “Our ideal guest is someone who appreciates the finer things in life: good wine, great food, luxury accommodations. The guests have a thirst for knowledge and an appreciation of wine that they are keen to formalize. They are bon vivants –  gregarious and outgoing, who will thrive in sharing this experience with newfound friends.” Michael Halpin, Owner, Château de Jalesnes

I had the chance to speak with owner Michael Halpin who is thrilled about guests learning about wine at Château de Jalesnes in April. As he shared his enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but wish my WSET classes had been held in the Loire Valley!

Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is one of a handful of highly reputable wine education providers recognized around the world. In the Level 2 class you will learn, among other things, how wine is made, what factors influence the style of wine, key grape varieties and their characteristics, the important wine producing regions of the world, and how sparkling, sweet, and fortified wines are produced. Presented will be precise information about label terminology, food and wine pairing principles, how various categories of spirits and liqueurs are made, and how to describe wine using a specialized approach to tasting. Trust me, this will be the most entertaining and interesting class you’ll ever have the privilege to take.

After you pass the test of fifty multiple choice questions, a professional certification, a lapel pin, and the associated WSET logo will be granted.


chateau de jalesnes

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Martin Hudson, the educator for the class, is part of a small group of people who hold the Master of Wine designation. To satisfy his passion for wine, he passed the WSET Diploma level and WSET certified educator program. Soon thereafter, Hudson became a Master of Wine. As a resident of Vernantes, Hudson is highly qualified to instruct fortunate participants who will admire not only his expertise in wine, but in the Loire Valley region.

This class will propel you to new adventures in wine appreciation and knowledge; I’ve passed both Levels 2 and 3, classes that have given me a breadth of information and understanding about wine. However, I studied in a drafty room above a wine shop…your location is stunning, to say the least!

WSET Level 2 - Martin Hudson

Château de Jalesnes

Château de Jalesnes, built in the early 1600s, is set on 21 acres with landscaped gardens, a heated outdoor pool, and a forest on the grounds. Originally constructed for the Marquis and Marquise de Jalesnes, subsequent years saw the Château changing ownership and falling into disrepair.

In 1886, a wealthy merchant from Saumur, Louis Ferdinand Ackerman, brought the property and restored the Château to its former glory. The Ackerman family is founder to the famous sparkling wine dynasty of the Loire Valley; this sparkling wine continues to be a popular, well known product in Saumur even today. Years passed and finally…

“The Château has been rescued by its current owners from a downward spiral of neglect and is being developed in line with its previous glamorous existence as a moated jewel in the collection of châteaux of the Loire Valley.” Michael Halpin, Owner, Château de Jalesnes

Michael Halpin hopes that guests in April will “consider it their home for the whole stay. Kick off the shoes, lounge about in the library, play the grand piano near the monumental staircase, stroll around the French gardens.”

You’ll be able to soak up more than 350 years of history with a visit to the Chapel and the crypt, former resting place of the first Marquis and Marquise de Jalesnes. The owners will be more than happy to take you on a guided tour through the château and its caves, sharing the fascinating stories of families who lived there from the Crusades until now. Energetic guests will be able to take a walk in the forest, swim in the heated outdoor pool, or play petanque on the rink.

WSET Level 2 at Chateau de Jalesnes

Your Week at Château de Jalesnes…

“We wanted to strike the balance between allowing our guests to have the full benefit of the château experience and seeing and tasting the local culture.” Martin Halpin, Owner, Château de Jalesnes

Not only will you elevate your knowledge of wine during your time in the Loire Valley, an a la carte menu of excursions is offered to enhance your experience: the program is designed for you to enjoy “Your Stay Your Way”. Following are a few of the fascinating side trips from which to choose.

Visits to the distinctive Château de Targe and Château de Parney, both in Saumur, will bring wine and history to life. Since there will be study of spirits, too, you will have an opportunity to tour the original Triple Sec distillery, Combiers, with its copper stills.

Be prepared to think and eat local! A dinner will be held at Le Table des Fouées  where a traditional meal of fouées, a cross between pita bread and pizza and filled with local specialties, will be served. Boasting a menu that is inspired by rustic recipes from the end of the 19th century is L’Helianthe, where you can dine during this memorable week. To satisfy a modern palate, there will be dinner at L’Alchimiste restaurant in Saumur; you’ll find creative, contemporary dishes “which create a veritable theatre for your palate”.


chateau de jalesnes fouees

Photo credit: Chateau de Jalesnes

The Château’s links to the Ackerman family, its former owners who live close by, create a natural affinity between the two houses. It will be a treat, should you choose, to be given an exclusive tour of their caves, followed by a private meal in the former Ackerman home on the grounds.

The last night of the week will feature a sumptuous dinner held in the Banquet Hall of Château de Jalesnes, a fitting finale to an incredible week.

For detailed information relating to costs, discretionary add-ons described above, features, and full itinerary of the program, please click here.

Learn in Luxury

What an incredible opportunity to learn about wine while basking in the luxury of Château de Jalesnes.  Take it.

Cheers! ~ Cindy


“This is the perfect chance to learn about wines and spirits from a leading expert in the field in an exceptional place. The combination of learning, expertise and location makes this a truly unique experience.” Michael Halpin, Owner, Château de Jalesnes
WSET Level 2

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