3 New Masters of Wine on How They Did It

Or how to succeed in wine by really, really trying

On Labor Day, the Institute of Masters of Wine announced 14 new Masters of Wine (MW) from five countries, bringing the total to 369 MWs in 29 countries. SevenFifty Daily caught up with three of the new inductees - Nova Cadamatre, Ashley Hausman Vaughters, and Billo Naravane - to talk about how they studied, what they wish they had known, and how they celebrated.  

Nova Cadamatre MW

On Monday, Nova Cadamatre became the first female winemaker in the United States to earn the MW title. As the director of winemaking for Canandaigua Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes, she makes a Riesling, a dry rosé, and a Cabernet Franc under the winery’s 240 Days label, and is also the owner of Trestle Thirty-One, a boutique winery dedicated to age-worthy dry Rieslings.

After becoming one of the first graduates of Cornell’s Viticulture and Enology program, in 2006, she headed to California, where she worked in a number of positions for such wineries as Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Chateau Souverain, and most recently, Robert Mondavi. In 2014 she landed on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Wine Tastemakers list, and today, when she’s not making wine, she blogs about wine and winemaking.

Those two little initials aren’t changing the trajectory of Cadamatre’s career. She admits that she wasn’t really looking for career advancement when she began the MW program in 2009. Still, getting to MW took grit on Cadamatre’s part: She passed theory in 2012 but couldn’t nail the practical exam despite multiple tries. In total, she attempted the exam six times. After taking a break from the program for a year, she returned in 2016 and passed both theory and the practical exam. She says she was overjoyed to pass the research paper section of the exam on her first try.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known going into the program? Obviously, how to pass the exam.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give an MW candidate now? To read my blog on what every MW student is afraid of. (Hint: It’s self-doubt and failure.) Don’t get discouraged and feel like you’re a fraud, because everybody’s felt like that at some point in the program.

How did you celebrate? Immediately upon getting the call, with a 2005 Bollinger La Grande Année, and it was delicious. The following day, with a 2009 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, an amazing 2003 German Riesling, and a vintage ’02 Champagne.

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