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Diamond and Golden Masters of Wine

Diamond and Golden Masters of Wine

The Institute has just celebrated some glorious vintages in the world of wine. Members who have been Masters of Wine for 60 and 50 years were honoured at this week’s Annual Awards Ceremony.

David Burns MW and Derek Stuart Todd MW passed the MW Examination in 1956, so this year celebrate their diamond anniversary. Richard Bowes MW, Ronnie Hicks MW and Robin Walters MW became Members of the Institute in 1966, making this year their golden anniversary.

Jane Masters MW, Chairman of the Institute said, “The first Master of Wine exams took place in 1953. It is a pleasure to be celebrating with some of those early Masters of Wine. The wine trade and the Institute has benefitted hugely from their decades of continued commitment.”

David Burns MW (pictured above with Jane Masters MW) joined the wine trade after serving in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, in Palestine. His career began as a trainee bottling claret in the cellars of J.L.P. Lebègue, prestigious shippers of Bordeaux and Burgundy. He became an MW in 1956 and joined Geo. Idle Chapman, with the brief to develop its wine business. He was Chairman of the Institute in 1963 – 53 years ago.

David realised his love was in selling wine, so in 1971 he set up David Burns Vintners and purchased a small group of shops and bars in the New Forest. He realised he needed to meet the threat of the supermarkets by developing a wholesale trade with hotels and restaurants. He was amongst the first to lead promotion through wine tastings and he originating a series of winemakers events which enhanced the success of the company.

His working career ended in 1993 when he sold his company to Grants of St James’s.

Derek Stuart Todd MW left the Seaforth Highlanders in 1947 at the age of 21, and immediately started work with Bostock & Kimpton Wholesale Wine merchants specialising in sales to both Army and Air Force Offices’ Messes.

His company was taken over three times in four years (by Hatch Mansfield, Grants of St James and Allied Breweries), and it eventually landed up with Grants of St James, where he become Chairman.

Derek took the Masters of Wine exam in 1954, eventually passed in 1956 and served as Chairman in 1964.

During his retirement, which started more than 30 years ago, he has been on the board of many companies including Allied Domecq, Harveys of Bristol, Victoria Wine Company, and Chateau Latour in France.

Dick Bowes.pngRichard Bowes MW was born in Oporto in 1932, to a father who spent his whole career working in the port trade. After Rugby School, National Service in Cyprus and Egypt, Richard went up to Oxford, where he competed in the annual tasting match against Cambridge. In 1955 he joined W&A Gilbey Ltd – known as ‘Wine Merchants to the People’, where he was principally engaged in quality control. This – clearly – was a great way to pass the MW exam, which he did in 1966.

Gilbeys merged into International Distillers & Vintners, and then Grand Metropolitan and more recently Diageo. At one point there were 14 MWs in the company.

He was Chairman of the Institute in 1986, and until his retirement in 1995 Richard managed the IDV companies in Europe.

Ronnie Hicks.png

Ronnie Hicks MW discovered wine while drinking Spatleses during his National Service, serving in the British Army of the Rhine. As soon as he returned home he joined John Harvey & Sons. His timing was fortuitous because the late George McWatters had just started a renowned training policy for would-be MWs and it obviously worked, as Ronnie passed the MW exams at his first attempt, in 1966.

Within a couple of years he joined another Master of Wine, Robin Don MW, and they built up a personal service and cellar planning business over the following three decades. They started with “En Primeur” offers from the 1966 Bordeaux vintage and then widened their scope to include many other areas in Europe and the New World.

Ronnie is now semi-retired, though he is spending his time running down the wine storage business that he accumulated through his and Robin’s trading years.


Robin Walters.pngRobin Walters MW joined Charles Kinloch & Co in 1960, and become an MW six years later. He became the Director of Courage Western in 1968, Director (and then Managing Director) of Saccone & Speed in 1970. From there he became a Director, and then MW of Matthew Clark & Sons in 1985. That lead in turn to the post of Chairman of John E Fells & Sons in 1991, a role he held until retirement in 2007.

This week the Institute also welcomed 18 new Masters of Wine to the Membership at the Annual Awards Ceremony.




For more information contact:
Sarah Kirkpatrick
Head of Marketing, Communications and Membership
Institute of Masters of Wine
+44 (0)207 383 9131