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IMW announces three new Masters of Wine

The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) announced three new members, based in the UK and New Zealand. Their names now proudly hold the much-coveted MW suffix...

Claire Blackler MW (UK), Michael Henley MW (New Zealand) and Siobhan Turner MW (UK) are the last names to be added to the IMW 2021 vintage, bringing this year’s yield to a total of 13 new Masters of Wine.

Increasing diversity

The 10 names announced in February were particularly diverse in origin and background and included the first Italy-based MW.

Following yesterday’s announcement there are now 419 MWs worldwide – 268 men and 151 women – based in 31 different countries. Since the first exam in 1953, 496 people have become an MW.

The top countries where MWs are based around the world are the UK (209), the US (57), Australia (28), France (18), New Zealand (16), Canada (10) and Germany (10).

Master of wine vs Master sommelier: What’s the difference?

Journey towards excellence

The notoriously rigorous Master of Wine exam is regarded as one of the industry’s top qualifications, attesting the candidates understanding of all aspects of wine, from viticulture and winemaking to history and marketing.

The exam consists of three stages: the theory and practical exams followed by the submission of a research paper. The latter consists of a thesis-like in-depth study on a topic chosen by the candidate.

Only after submitting the research paper and signing the IMW’S code of conduct can an individual become a Master of Wine and be entitled to use the MW title.

See below for biographies and research paper topics of the three new MWs:

Claire Blackler MW (UK)

Claire is a wine and spirits educator and runs the wine education and events business, Case Studies Wine School. Graduating from university with a BSc in applied chemistry and an MSc in analytical chemistry, Claire had a 10-year career within pharmaceutical research before moving into the wine industry.

As an educator and communicator, Claire’s aim has always been to assist and inspire others to discover and enhance the pleasures of drinking wine and spirits.

Claire’s home is a narrowboat moored on the Union Canal near Edinburgh. Away from business, she will be found long-distance walking, skiing in the French Alps or at Selhurst Park, supporting Crystal Palace Football Club.

Research paper: The application of video to consumer wine tastings — an investigation into consumer experiences and outcomes.

Michael Henley MW (New Zealand)

Working in the local bottle store to help fund his university lifestyle opened a door into the world of wine that Mike happily walked through. He holds a BSc in zoology as well as diplomas from WSET and in viticulture and oenology.

Mike spent the first years of his career travelling and working vintages in South Africa, California, Marlborough, Oregon, Barossa Valley and Spain. Settling down in London and working at Christie’s Auction House exposed him to fine and rare wines.

After a transfer to California with Christie’s, he moved back to New Zealand and took up a role with the newly opened Craggy Range Winery. During his time with Craggy Range, he returned to London to oversee the European markets. After that, he returned to New Zealand and held chief executive roles with Trinity Hill Winery and Aotearoa NZ Fine Wine Estates.

Based in the sunny Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand, Mike struggles to keep control over his two teenage daughters, two cats and two dogs. In his spare time, body willing, he enjoys playing golf, tennis and cricket. He is a director of New Zealand Winegrowers, Hawkes Bay Winegrowers and Hawkes Bay Tourism.

Research paper: The impact of future climate changes on the production of Sauvignon Blanc wines in Marlborough, New Zealand.

Siobhan Turner MW (UK)

Siobhan is a freelance wine consultant focusing on strategic communications, cellar management and wine authentication, in which she works closely with Chai Consulting. She also judges regularly for the International Wine Challenge.

After qualifying as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young, Siobhan worked in corporate finance and investor relations before responding to an ad that led to nine years as executive director of the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Originally from Winnipeg, Canada, Siobhan now lives in London with her husband and daughter and is passionate about the potential of the Okanagan Valley to produce world-class red wines. For fun, she swims, canters through the Scottish countryside and tries to keep up her French and Spanish.

Research paper: Okanagan: a potential signature red variety?

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