Tag Archives: Master of Wine

Unfulfilled Post Ideas from the Past Three Weeks!

Normally I don’t write many posts due to having no inspired thing to write about. The past few weeks I have had a TON of ideas but no time to write. Instead, I have decided to put some of them down to a single post and if anyone is very interested in one of them I’ll fill that thought out.

1) Harvest Update- we are about 10-18 days away from bloom! This is incredibly early and the weather over the next three weeks will go very far towards setting the tone of this harvest. Minimal frost to date as well for such a early harvest so things are going well so far.

2) Why is it not possible to find a family friendly restaurant with good food? Do foodie parents of young children not need good food outside of Napa? Maybe that makes me a snob but a recent weekend vacation to Monterrey, CA really opened my eyes to how spoiled we are here. Our favorite (pre-child) restaurant which shall remain nameless for this post had a sign posted outside. “No strollers, no small children!” Really? I’m tempted to never go back even after my son is grown just because we felt so discriminated against. We settled for a very kid friendly restaurant that used too much salt and baked fish in white wine sauce included a carton of cream and a stick (at least) of butter completely negating my healthy choice of the fish in the first place. The second night we were directed by the hotel concierge to another restaurant where the serving of lasagna I ordered could have easily fed a small village. Can some chef with kids do something about this travesty???

3) Almost 6 weeks to go until my MW exam. I’m busily tweaking my answer style, doing timed tastings and re writing answers from previous exams. I look back over the past 4 exams I’ve sat and I can almost tell where I went wrong on some of the wines. I remember how they tasted to me and my thought process. I can’t believe I went Germany instead of Alsace on a set of three wines, two of which were so clearly Gew├╝rztraminer and Riesling. Why didn’t I just say Chardonnay on the last wine on Paper 1 last year. It certainly tasted like Chardonnay but I talked myself out of it since I thought I had found a set of Chardonnays earlier in the exam. I hadn’t and ended up getting three wines wrong all because I over thought the exam. This year my plan is to not over think, don’t second guess, relax and show the examiners that I do, actually know this stuff! Wish me luck!


Twas the Night Before MW Seminar…

Ghosts of a bygone era move swiftly outside the window of the ferry. Stark silhouettes against the evening sky of the rusted metal and broken glass that once were the ship yards on Mare Island. I can only imagine how busy they must have been in the 1940s and 50s. The sky fades from a deep orange to indigo as I contemplate what I’ve been doing with my life over the past 7 years. In 2007, I had an idea, as I sat in my office, in a winery capable of producing 15 million cases per year, trying to figure a way to make myself a better winemaker. I decided to become a Master of Wine. Not to try to become one but to actually do it. Well, at this point I still haven’t gotten to that goal. My struggles have been well chronicled through this blog. Right now it is the night before the MW seminar. The one week per year that all the students converge on several cities around the globe together with MWs to learn, study, share ideas, and go away better prepared to attack the Master of Wine exam in June or whenever they plan to take it. I have sat the exam now four different times and in less than 5 months I’ll sit it for my fifth and final time. This makes the next week my final seminar as an MW student. I am calm and collected. I feel prepared. One can’t ask for much more than that. On Saturday morning I will take my mock practical exam which will be graded and the result will set the tone for my remaining time between now and the exam in June. For now, I’m savoring the moments before the seminar. Before the exhaustion of tasting blind almost non-stop for a week sets in. Savoring the time now, when I’m still excited about the opportunity to study alongside and learn from some of the best and brightest minds in our industry today. Tonight, staring out at the now black night blanketing the San Francisco Bay, I am savoring the possibilities. Ever the optimist, I’m looking forward to my next seminar. My next seminar won’t be as a student but will be as an MW.

Getting Ready for the MW…for the Last Time

Now that harvest is over, I must once again turn my attention to preparing for the Master of Wine exam next June. Yet again, I’m at my last chance to pass the exam. However, this time next year, I will have passed and will be working on my dissertation or I will have failed and won’t have to worry about the exam. There are only two options this time and neither involves me taking the exam again after June. There is a comfort in that.

There are three of us at the same point in the program and although I’m the only one of the three on my last chance, we are calling ourselves “The Three Musketeers”. It’s nice to have company on what is inevitably a lonely journey. For me, I am as determined as ever. I have changed mentors and have cut up and folded the questions from the last 10 years of practical exams. I was stunned to realize the last 4 of which I actually sat so I will be rewriting exams I’ve written before. My hope is, that by using the same technique as I did to study for theory, I will be able to anticipate the questions for this June’s exam. I’m also sure that by honing my writing technique I’ll be more efficient with my time during the exam, allowing me to spend less time thinking of my answers and more time actually dissecting the wines themselves.

Finally, this year will be the most challenging as I try to juggle the demands of the program with being the mother of an active toddler, wife, and full time winemaker. This harvest has been one of the most challenging due to the extreme compaction and the fact that the life with a baby eliminates the simple down time after work that I’ve used in past harvests to recover from long hours at the winery. I went into the harvest more energized yet more tired than ever before and I have come out on the other side very happy with quality and exhausted. We worked hard to capture the essence of this vintage and I feel that we succeeded. Hopefully the MW program will use a different part of my brain to give other parts time to rest.

Only the next 7 months until June!