Cathy Marston: How E & J Gallo’s MW scholarship has helped my career

Wednesday, 9 March, 2022
The Buyer, Richard Siddle
E & J Gallo’s Women Behind the Wine Educational Scholarship Fund awards scholarships yearly to support women around the world.

Launched in partnership with the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation, E & J Gallo’s Women Behind the Wine Educational Scholarship Fund recognises outstanding women each year, with 21 scholarships awarded in 2019, 24 in 2020 and 28 in 2021 all aimed to support women around the world in their wine education and professional development.

Now in its fourth year, E & J Gallo’s Women Behind the Wine Campaign champions and supports the professional development of women in the food and beverage business, focusing on encouraging the advancement and celebrating the achievements of women in the industry; the initiative works across two key areas. As well as the educational scholarships, in partnership with the Women of the Vine & Spirit, it also looks to celebrate the diverse female leadership within its own business and the steps they are taking across E & J Gallo and its various brands.

Its link up with Women of the Vine & Spirit helps give women the support they need through a series of educational scholarships, giving them the financial help they need to further their careers with a range of awards, including:

1. Master Sommelier Scholarship ($10,000)
2. Masters of Wine Scholarship ($10,000)
3. Elizabeth Smyth Student Scholarship ($10,000)
4. Fuel Your Dreams Scholarships ($1,000 to $3,000)

Here we talk to one of the winners of the 2021 Master of Wine scholarships, wine educator Cathy Marston, about her career to date and what impact the scholarship has had on her.

Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

I’ve been involved with wine for more than 25 years starting in a marketing role, moving through to wine bar owner, wine writer, wine judge and now wine educator. I must say that I never thought of wine as a career – at school and university, I wanted to get into theatre production – but I love that wine has opened so many doors and made me so many good friends over the years.

How did you get into wine and why did you want to?

I applied for a job in marketing for Adnams Wine Merchants, which I was rather surprised I got. They asked me what my favourite wine was and I think I vaguely said “Oh, Italian wines”. What I actually meant was that I bought Asda’s own-label Sicilian red because it was dirt cheap and every two months it went on special and I could buy 1 litre for the price of 75cls. But I got lucky working for Adnams – they had a policy of offering everyone the chance to do WSET courses (including the stable manager who looked after the draught horses) and they put me through them all, right through to Diploma.

They did ask if I wanted to go straight onto MW, but at the time I thought that living in Ipswich, I was too far away from London to be able to do it successfully. Whereas now, I’m trying to do it from South Africa so that all worked out well.

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