I’ve always been open about my ambitions to become a Master of Wine (MW). Five years ago these were rubbished over the chink of glasses and gentle banter swooshing round a crowded tasting room of MWs and students. “Three children….Ha, ha, ha, ha,”. The laughter clearly defining the disbelief of my fellow delegate at the IMW symposium in Florence. This person dismissed success on my mission like one would turn away a corked wine. Perhaps it was my dogged determination not to let family and friends down after such a long slog. Whatever it was, Friday 22nd February 2019 is a day that I will never forget. It will always be the anniversary of the biggest achievement of my life. The day that I found out that I had joined the ranks of some of the most impressive minds and palates in the Global Wine Industry. I am a Master of Wine. I cannot believe it!
You start the journey fresh faced and full of enthusiasm. An exciting chapter of travel, tasting and networking with fascinating people involved in wine around the world. Gradually over time through constant knocks and a clatter of constructive criticism, the innocence of your commencement is replaced with a war-torn reticence. Humility is driven into your system, a new respect for your classmates before you is born. I never thought I was a marathon runner, more a sprinter. The MW course teaches you life lessons, among these are grit, determination and enforced patience. My seven year journey through the Institute, punctuated by a fourth boy (also an MW – Marcus William) just under 2 years ago has given me a far greater understanding of just how far reaching and complex the wine industry is. I will never know all there is about wine, the deeper one goes, the greater the opportunities to learn more.
Family and friends have seen me pass and fail over these years. Credit has to be given to my husband Jim for his patience and support, balancing precariously on an underlying frustration at the weekends, evenings and early mornings stolen by studies both at home and abroad. Lucas (boy no.3) has only known me as an MW student, with deadlines and exams. I’m lucky to work in a family business, the freedom that my father gave me to pursue these elusive initials is certainly one of the main reasons for my success. Juggling family life, work and research has been the hardest part of this journey. There is nothing more frustrating than recognising that you can’t keep all the balls in the air, there were definite thuds as other duties were dropped under the pressure of the domination of MW studies.
There is an illusion that once you pass the exams, you are over the hump. I beg to differ. I struggled working in such isolation over two years on my Research Project. Having never done a thesis or project of this size, such discipline and analysis demanded new skills. Surveys and quantitative analysis fought hard against my recovering baby brain. Advice from others tended towards ‘safe’ subjects, ‘don’t be led down a rabbit hole’, ‘keep it tight’. It took a year to get my subject nailed down and approved. Mainly due to the broad ranging nature of its theme. The gender-gap is relevant to now. Wine-making has traditionally been seen as a man’s domain. This is changing, but how much has the industry progressed? It was after a Wine Australia trip 3 years ago that I focussed on the industry there for my studies. The high calibre of graduates of oenology in an English speaking country was the perfect dataset for the foundations of my project. The talented winemaker Corrina Wright of Oliver’s Taranga in the McLaren Vale, was invaluable and without her introductions I’m not sure this project would have grown wings. Thank you Corinna.
It’s nearly a month since I passed. Celebrations are on-going, I think this may be the case all year! I still can’t believe that I have achieved my dream. The next chapter fills me with so much excitement and anticipation. My duties within Tindal Wine Merchants, encompassing Searsons Wine Shop and Tankersley Wine Brokers will receive the attention that they need. Exploration and the discovery of new wines will continue. The gates have opened and now it’s up to me to maximise the enjoyment, enrichment and accomplishments on next part of this journey.
You can request a copy pf my Research Project from the IMW website – :Google+