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Institute of Masters of Wine elects first-ever American Chairman

The members of the Institute of Masters of Wine elected its first-ever American Chairman at their Annual General Meeting, held at the Vintner’s Hall, London, on 19 September.

Jean-Michel Valette MW was born in 1960 in Boulder, Colorado, to a French father and a German mother, and grew up in France, Germany, and the US. He is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Universities, as well as being a former Managing Director and Chairman of Robert Mondavi Winery, and became a Master of Wine in 1992.

Jean-Michel Valette MW, the new Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, said:

“I am honoured and humbled by the faith and confidence that has been invested in me by my fellow Masters of Wine. It feels very special to be the first American Chairman in the Institute’s history. The Institute is going through a very interesting period of expansion worldwide, and I aim to ensure that we have all the tools in place to capitalise on the esteem and respect in which the title Master of Wine is held throughout the global wine trade.”

The Institute also held elections for its Council, at which two Masters of Wine were newly elected to serve on the governing body of the Institute.

Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW, who is Spanish, qualified as an Agronomical Engineer at Universidad Politécnica Madrid and has been a Master of Wine since 2010. He speaks four languages, and is principal administrator at the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission in Brussels.

Joel Butler MW, who is originally from Denver, Colorado, is a Stanford graduate who was one of the first two Americans to become a Master of Wine, in 1990. He has been working in the wine trade for almost 40 years, and is a noted judge at international wine competitions as well as being an author and journalist. His latest book, “Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age” will be released in mid-November.

The number of Masters of Wine worldwide now stands at 300, following the announcement earlier in September of three candidates who were successful in submitting their dissertations. A record number of candidates took the Institute’s exams in summer 2012, and the number of students in the global study programme now exceeds the number of Masters of Wine for the first time.

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Joy for brand new Masters of Wine

The Institute of Masters of Wine is very happy to announce that three new Masters of Wine, from Austria, Singapore, and the UK, will be joining the Institute in September.

Catriona Felstead MW, 36, is Direct and Interactive Marketing Manager at Berry Bros & Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine merchant. Catriona, who was born in Reading, England, is a graduate of St Andrew’s University, where she studied French and Spanish. She started her working life in a Spanish petrochemical company before her love of wine led her into the wine trade. Berry Bros & Rudd, a long-standing Supporter of the Institute, now boasts six Masters of Wine amongst its staff.

Annette Scarfe MW, 51, from Singapore, is a former investment banker who pursued her interest in wine to embark on a whole new career. Annette began in the wine trade by starting her own business importing and wholesaling New Zealand and French wines. She now works as an independent consultant, primarily in London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Her clients include Bumpkin (part of the Ignite Group), and Alan Yau and Jale Erentok’s Busaba. Annette is a regular member of tasting panels, and judges wine competitions in the UK, France, and Hong Kong.

Andreas Wickhoff MW, 35, from Salzburg, becomes Austria’s third Master of Wine. He is Managing Director of Premium Estates Austria, a group of the country’s leading wineries. Before establishing the association in 2004, he worked as a sommelier and wine buyer in Corsica and the United States, and studied in Brisbane, Australia. Andreas’s greatest passion apart from wine is snowboarding. He and his wife, Evelyn, have a son, Fredrik, who will turn two in November.

Lynne Sherriff MW, Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, said:

“We are very happy to welcome these three outstanding new Masters of Wine into our international community. They have displayed all the qualities that make our members so special: talent, application, the ability to think differently and communicate effectively, and obviously the love of wine that unites us all. They collectively represent the best of the Masters of Wine in their breadth of experience both within and without the wine trade, and the international perspective that they bring us.”

Catriona Felstead MW said today “”I am absolutely delighted, and honoured, to be joining the Institute of Masters of Wine. I am thrilled that four years of hard work and sacrifice has paid off. I thought that studying for the exams while pregnant was tough – but trying to concentrate on a dissertation with a new baby was a real challenge! I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me during this time.”

Annette Scarfe MW said “I am thrilled to be joining the Institute. I have enjoyed the journey so much, and feel privileged to have met so many wonderful people in the wine trade along the way.”

Andreas Wickhoff MW said “I am incredibly glad to have passed all parts of the MW exam. It has been one of the most adventurous, arduous and exciting journeys of my life, during which I was pushed to the limit.”

The three candidates have been admitted following their successful submission of dissertations, the titles of which are below. The dissertation, which must constitute original research, is the third and final element of the Masters of Wine Examination after the Theory and Practical papers. Their achievement brings the total number of Masters of Wine to 300, with members of the Institute now based in 24 different countries.

Catriona, Annette, and Andreas will be formally welcomed into the Institute at a ceremony in the Vintners’ Hall, London, during the Institute’s Annual Reception on 6th November 2012. The ceremony will follow the Institute’s famous Annual Claret and Sauternes tasting, which will showcase wines of the 2008 vintage.

Dissertations:

The successful dissertation titles were as follows:

‘How label information on sweetness levels might influence consumer attitudes to “dry” Alsace white wines in the UK off-trade market” (Catriona Felstead MW)

‘How can Ribera del Duero achieve increased listings of its red wines in the English on-trade?’ (Annette Scarfe MW)

‘Districtus Austriae Controllatus: opportunities and challenges of transforming a Germanic into a Romanic appellation system’ (Andreas Wickhoff MW)

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For enquiries about this release please contact:
Ben McKeown
Communications Manager, Institute of Masters of Wine
T: +44 (0)207 383 9131
E: bmckeown@mastersofwine.org
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