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New IMW chairman: ‘We’re not elitist’

The new Austrian chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine is determined to make the organisation ‘more relevant to the wine trade.’

For the first time in its 55-year history, the IMW has elected a non-UK Chairman. Dr Josef ‘Pepi’ Schuller MW has taken over the two-year position from Joanna Locke.

Schuller´s election underscores the Institute´s increasing efforts to expand its influence internationally – and defuse accusations of being out of touch.

‘An institute in London that claims it wants to be a wine leader is not enough,’ Schuller told decanter.com. ‘We are proud of our British roots but there are more and more international students being accepted into the programme all the time. We now have members from 23 different countries.’

The Institute already has annual education programmes running in California, Australia, France and Austria.

Schuller said his aim was to make the Institute ‘more relevant to the trade.’

‘We need more MWs [Masters of Wine] from the traditional European wine countries. We also want to form more partnerships with global wine industry leaders and find new sponsors.’

Schuller rejected recent criticisms that the Institute is elitist and out of touch with its own students – but stressed that they would always reward excellence.

‘We ensure our qualification and exam techniques are in line with international standards. We don´t want to see it as an elitist thing, but we still want the top notch candidates,’ he said.

Since it was established in 1953, more than 2000 candidates have sat the Institute´s rigorous examination. Only 278 have acquired the MW qualification.

Schuller, who also heads the Austrian Wine Academy in Rust, Austria, will be supported by the newly elected vice chair, Lynne Sherriff MW, who is based in London.

Written by Darrel Joseph

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