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Institute of Masters of Wine elects first-ever American Chairman

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.