Monthly Archives: June 2013

Post Exam Musings

Last week I sat the Master of Wine exam for my fourth time. This year was different for me, however, because I only had to worry about passing the Practical exam. If you are interested in reading the exam it is posted here. Looking over this year’s theory exam I do not envy my fellow students who had to sit that part. Every year it seems the exam gets more challenging. The themes are the same but the questions are more specific in their subject matter.

This year’s tasting exam was no picnic but since I sat that section I will refrain from commenting on specifics until after results are posted other than the fact that several of us went through quite a few fortified wines for reference the night before Paper 3 and that did all of us a LOT of good! 🙂

Either way its done with for another year and I sincerely hope I never have to prepare for it again. The months of sacrifice, wine analysis, and late nights pouring over wine reference books wondering if I’ve lost my mind. After all, it’s just wine. We’re not curing cancer here. It’s amazing how serious we can get about it.

Now I’m enjoying my new job, my family, and my newly found extra time ( which will soon be focused towards the Dissertation) while I can. Hopefully that means I can continue to come up with fun topics to write about.

As I asked before, if you have something you’d like me to discuss please let me know! I LOVE feedback!

’twas the Night Before the MW Exam…


For the fourth time in my life I find myself preparing for the next few days buried in a conference room at Opus One trying to pass the MW exam. This year, having passed the theory section last year, I’m focusing on the practical section (tasting section for those not familiar with the set up of the exam). Tonight I’m enjoying two white Burgundies; a Macon Villages and a delightfully lovely Puligny-Montrachet which I enjoyed much more than the Macon. The thought being that tonight instead of analyzing, dissecting and studying the wine I’m just going to enjoy it, relax, and focus on why I started this journey in the first place. I started this journey to learn more about the world of wine and to be able to avoid the dreaded cellar (or regional) palate. I feel that I’ve accomplished so much yet there is so much still to learn that I’ve only scratched the surface. This is truely one of those industries where it is impossible to know it all. In fact the title of Master of Wine is so strange because it is nearly impossible to “Master” all aspects of it. So here I am, enjoying my little piece of Burgundy before undertaking one of the most challenging feats of mental agility that exists in this industry. I’ll find out in September if I was finally successful this year. I feel like I will be but we’ll have to find out then.

Auction Napa Valley: My First Rodeo

This past weekend was one of the biggest events of the year for our valley; Auction Napa Valley. It was a HUGE success this year raising over $16 million dollars for local charities and causes. It was also amazing to experience it for the first time. I only attended the Friday marketplace and barrel auction this year but it was a ton of fun. The marketplace itself, spread over the entire campus of Raymond Winery was a festival of all things wine, food, and the good life complete with a display of the America’s Cup and several fantastic sports cars! (I have a weakness for the latter)

The food was fantastic! Highlights for me included BBQ ribs from Mustards and cupcakes from Kara’s. There were also some incredible baked mozzarella bites from Cindy’s backstreet kitchen. However the real excitement for me was the barrel auction. Our lot from Mondavi was a blend from the 2011 Z block of To Kalon vineyard. These old vines, planted in 1973 made an immediate impression on me when I tasted through the lots for the first time earlier this year. Genevieve and I decided to highlight them at this year’s Auction. I was so proud of our blend and the tension of watching others taste and then bid was incredibly nerve racking and exciting all at the same time.

I’m so excited that so many people felt the same way about it that we did. I was also able to meet quite a lot of new faces including Steve Heimoff from Wine Enthusiast, who has an incredible wine blog if you have not checked it out and Dante Mondavi, who was pouring his family’s wine Continuum, which is delicious. I also was able to catch up with some old friends as well so it was a great day for socializing and tasting some fantastic wines.
Later that evening we enjoyed a lovely 7 course dinner at the winery with quite a few Auction attendees


The menu was superb as always and the wines were incredible. Again, it cemented for me how lucky I am to have found such a wonderful winery home! I can’t wait for next year!