Kent Benson, Certified Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator, is a seasoned wine educator with a wide variety of experiences in the wine industry. He is the founder of Swirl Wine School in Central Minnesota, a consumer-focused wine education service. Over 15 years Kent has led hundreds of wine tastings and classes, ranging from one-on-one tutorials to large corporate events. Kent combines his firsthand knowledge of the world’s wine regions and his hands-on cellar experience with a lively, humorous teaching style, to create an environment where learning is easy and fun. Kent’s extensive use of maps and detailed handouts are designed to help students make a more meaningful connection with the wines being discussed, the places where they are made, and the people who make them. Kent is convinced that an intimate knowledge of a wine’s creation sets the stage for a fuller appreciation of what ends up in the glass.
Kent's wine industry experience has included many years as a retail floor salesman, several years as a freelance wine writer with a regular column in a Minnesota style magazine and articles published in Wines and Vines and Sommelier Journal, several years as a regular presenter during the Minnesota Renaissance Festival Wine Weekend, a couple years as the wine quiz editor for thewinehub.com, and even a stint as a cellar worker at Wild Horse Winery in Paso Robles, CA. Kent has acted as a proof reader and fact checker for wine publications such as Natalie MacLean's book Unquenchable. His travels have taken him to the wine regions of France, Italy, Germany and California. Most recently, Kent has embarked on an importing venture, specializing in the wines of Germany and France.
In addition to his many certifications and designations, Kent has been recognized for his achievements: 2015 Louis Roederer Champagne Scholarship for Wine Writers & Bloggers; Runner-Up: 2008 Wine Australia AusWISE Wine Educator Competition; Honorable Mention: 2007 Wines of South Africa Essay Competition.
Kent is a member of the Society of Wine Educators, the French Wine Society, the Guild of Sommeliers, the Center for Wine Origins, and the Wine Education Network.
Certified Wine Educator, Court Certified Sommelier, Wine Location Specialist, WSET Advanced (Level 3) with Distinction, French Wine Scholar
Champagne Master-Level Provence Master-Level with highest honors Rhône Master-Level with highest honors French Wine Scholar with honors