Tomorrow through Friday I will be sitting the Master of Wine exam for the last time. I’m so excited for the exam in the morning but also I will miss the intense preparation a bit. Starting Saturday I will begin a life with no intensive structured studies. That is a life which I have experienced only for short periods. I suppose I ended up being a perpetual student anyway even though that is what I swore off once I graduated college in 2006. However in June of 2007 I signed up for my first WSET course and have been slowly acquiring certifications ever since with the ultimate goal of achieving the MW. I suppose it really is the process of learning I enjoy as well as the pursuit of a goal.
Thinking to tomorrow, I wonder what the examiners have set up for us? Classics? The hot new world area taking London by storm? Avant garde new production techniques? Small production obscure Italian varieties? All are possible but many are not probable. Probability points to classics. Standards which have been set over time. Chardonnay, Cabernet, and others however there are always surprises and that is what makes this fun. Did I just say that this is fun? Yes it is! This year I have found the fun in the practical exam. That is how I know I’m going to pass this year. If is because I know that whatever they set out for me tomorrow and Thursday and Friday, I am prepared to answer it. It’s a good feeling.
Now I’m going to go grab some pizza with a friend, maybe a beer, relax, do some last minute vintage studying before bed and wake up ready for the experience. Research Paper, here I come!
I had a teacher in 10th grade English who said that ALL the time. “Take your F and move on with your life.” At some point in the year she found an assignment to give us all an F on. Was she just mean and spiteful? Some of us thought so at the time but what she was doing was trying to teach us a much more valuable life lesson than how to properly diagram a sentence. She wanted us to learn to deal with failure. To face it, accept it, and come out on the other side stronger and willing to work harder to achieve what we wanted. Today that quote is running through my mind a lot. I received my MW exam results this morning. I have failed the Practical exam once again with the same grades I had last year; C+, C+, and B respectively. The B was on Paper 1 last year but that is hardly the point. The point is I have now taken the exam 4 times and received 4 result letters. The first fail was a complete surprise to me. I thought for sure I had passed at least the theory portion. The second fail was devastating because I had thrown everything in my entire being at that theory exam and was at a complete loss as to what to do next. The third fail was bittersweet because it also came with a pass on Theory but a fail on Practical. It however did renew my chances to continue trying to pass the exam. Now, on my 4th fail, I’m taking it philosophically. It is just another set back in life which is, everyday, just a series of wins and setbacks. I’ve had far more of the first than the second in my life so I’m thinking this is not so bad. I have one more shot at the Practical and if my running theme holds true, I’ll pass it next year on my last try. Now I just have to find money to pay for the tuition again! If you would like to donate to my wine education fund don’t hesitate to let me know.
Song of the day: Strip Me by Natasha Bedingfield
This has been a vintage year in so many ways and until now I have not had the time or opportunity to talk about any of it. First of all, my husband and I welcomed our first child, Nathaniel, in October. It has changed our lives dramatically and we have spent the last 8 week getting to know him. I would not have traded this time for anything.
The second major event this year was that I have finally passed the theory section of the MW exam. For those of you who have followed my blog over the past few years, you have read about my frustration with this particular section of the exam (for those who are new just look under the “MW studies” classified posts). It’s such a relief to only have the practical section of the exam left. I almost passed it this past time with a B, C, and C on the tasting exams respectively. Time to buckle down and get it done this next go round.
Finally, I am happy to announce that I am starting a new chapter in my career, in January, as the new red winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery. I am completely thrilled and humbled by this new opportunity. I have always been inspired by Mr. Mondavi’s viewpoint towards wine, food, and family and it has significantly influenced my personal path through the wine industry. I’m also excited about working with the team at Mondavi including Genevieve and Rich to help continue the legacy that Mr. Mondavi left for us. The vineyards and the winery are completely inspiring and I’m looking forward to getting to know all aspects of them.
Of course with every new chapter in life, another one must close. My time with Souverain, Chateau St. Jean, Beringer Knights Valley, and Emma Pearl is coming to an end. I’ve met and worked alongside so many great people and I will miss them all. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my fellow winemakers at Treasury Wine Estates. They are an amazing team. I want to particularly say that I’m very honored that so many of them trusted me with their wines and I always tried to treat them as they would have. I am eternally grateful to Ed Killian for sharing his extensive knowledge of winemaking and life in general whenever I had a question.
So in the spirit of new chapters, I am once again going to make a pledge to write a post once a week. To my long time readers, thanks for sticking with me. To my new readers, thanks for coming and if you have wine questions you’d like answered don’t hesitate to mention them.
Here’s to a fantastic year!