Many, many congratulations to the five new Masters of Wine announced on Friday afternoon, five MW candidates whose dissertations have managed to satisfy the examiners. As our very own Richard Hemming has been reporting in his Diary of an MW student, now in its 57th instalment, the dissertation has now been replaced by a research paper, some of which will be submitted for the first time this summer. All of the new MWs are now based in the UK, even though only two of them are British-born.
The new MW closest to JR.com HQ is Patrick Schmitt MW, editor-in-chief of the trade magazine The Drinks Business who also chairs their annual awards. He studied geography at Oxford and then landscape architecture at the University of Greenwich before a job on a horticultural trade journal introduced him to journalism. Despite being immersed in MW studies – no mean feat for someone with a young family – he has been shortlisted two years running for Editor of the Year in the business and professional magazine category of the British Society of Magazine Editors.
Also based in London is Italian-Canadian Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW, a highly-respected wine lecturer, having taught at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) since 2004. She writes and lectures on wine, is a chair judge for the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) and judges several other international competitions.
Jennifer Docherty MW is another Canadian based in London. She left her native Vancouver at 18 to study fashion design in New York, but has been based in London since 2005. Her love of gastronomy led her to the WSET, which inspired her to change career. She is a wine buyer for Liberty Wines and has previously worked in education and sales. She speaks English, Mandarin and French.
Brit Victoria Stephens-Clarkson MW also once worked as a buyer for Liberty Wines and is currently head of buying for Atlas Fine Wines, also in London. She joined the wine trade in 2000, working for a grande marque champagne house in Epernay. She has also worked as a buyer for Direct Wines/Laithwaite's. She speaks several languages, and has spent considerable time travelling to wine regions, making wine, and overseeing winemaking projects to complement her buying experience.
The only new MW to be based any distance from the British capital is Australian Miles Corish MW, who is currently managing director of Bowland Forest Vintners, the north Lancashire wholesaler and retailer. He originally moved to England from Sydney to play professional cricket. He is a WSET educator, judges at wine competitions, consults for the on-trade and, whenever time allows, returns to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales to make wine under his own label.
There are now 323 MWs in all, working in 24 countries. These new MWs mean that the number of MWs is now greater than the number of MW students. There are currently 321 aspiring MWs, from 38 countries, in the Master of Wine study programme.