Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Interview with first U.S. female Master of Wine

Nova Cadamatre (photo provided)
Nova Cadamatre, director of winemaking for Canandaigua Winery and owner of the boutique Trestle Thirty One winery, has become the first female American winemaker to pass the Masters of Wine exam administered by the Institute of Masters of Wine. There are just 369 Masters of Wine living in 29 countries. She was interviewed by Sam Filler, executive director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.
Question: So, how does it feel to be the first female winemaker in the United States to pass the Masters of Wine exam?

Answer: It feels amazing just to pass, but to be the first female winemaker to achieve it is still pretty unbelievable. I’d like to think that it means women are taking on a more prominent role in the industry overall. I have worked with so many talented women, so I’m always a little skeptical of the numbers that only show 10% of the winemakers in this industry are women.
Q: There are many certificates and programs for wine and wine and spirits education at this point. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between the Masters of Wine program and the Master Sommelier program, for instance.

A: Definitely. The Master of Wine (MW) and the Master Sommelier (MS) programs are the top certifications for this industry. The MW is more production and industry focused while the MS is more service oriented. I think each serves a very important role but are quite different in their approach to wine. There are many other certifications, including the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) out of London, the lower level Sommelier certifications, Certified Specialist of Wine, and Certified Wine Educator certificates. I’ve gone through the WSET program and I highly recommend that for increasing general wine knowledge. I started with level 3 and then went on to my diploma as a stepping stone for my MW.

Q: What advice would you have for recent college grads who would like to enter this field? 
A: Try to get internships in as many different areas of the world as possible. It’s important to learn widely and from as many winemakers in as many styles as possible when you are young. By having this wide breadth of experience, you can draw on it later in life when you begin to specialize.

Q: A lot of people have seen the movie "SOMM" by now and know how rigorous that exam process is and how dedicated the professional must be to pass. Tell us a about the level of commitment needed to study for the MW exam. How did that affect you?

A: Over the eight years I studied to become an MW, it became part of my job and home life. There were weekend mornings that were totally dedicated to tasting with a group when I was out in California. I traveled extensively to learn as much as I could. I spent late nights up studying and lunch breaks mind-mapping theory questions. Every time I flew I took theory questions with me to mind-map and write full essays for. My family was incredibly supportive although I know by the time I passed both the Theory and the Practical (tasting exam) seven  years in, it was starting to wear on all of us. 
Go here for the rest of the interview.
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