Cover Story WINE.LUXE Cover Person of the Year ｜ 2018 JAN - 2018 FEB
The Youngest Master of Wine in the World
Winning the title of Master of Wine(MW) is one of the greatest achievements for any veteran wine student can achieve, these people usually have a great passion on wine, and willing to spend over a decade to study the vast world of wine.
However, Sarah Heller is changing our perception now. The young and talented wine enthusiast, with only 8 years of wine study background, who earned the MW title last year and becomes the current youngest MW (29 years old) in the world. This successful young millennials would like to share her unimaginable wine journey.
Minutes before the start of the interview, Sarah and I have chit-chatted a little bit about our favourite wine, and her academic background. At first I was surprised that Sarah did not have any relationship with wine (her major study was Art and Design) in Yale University, until her summer job in Italy changed her mindset on her career and life “I was working for a restaurant in Piedmont, as I have always been a food enthusiast. Piedmont did not only broaden my view on“Italian regional cuisines, but also fine wines. The chef of my work was a wine lover, he was kind to bring the colleagues to visit the vineyards at the countryside during weekend. When I visited Barolo and Barbaresco, these places were eye-openers to me, and these trips were my earliest encounters with wine. Surrounded by the fantastic Italian lifestyle, how could I not get interested in wine?”
After the wonderful Italian trip, Sarah continued her wine journey by working part-time jobs for a wine company. In 2010, the young millennial hailed back to Hong Kong and met her boss, Debra Meiburg MW, an important person what influences Sarah’s career. “I was working for Debra’s company 3 years, and I agree she is a very successful woman. She has a fantastic business that she built overtime, particularly focused on event and education. I got involved to handle a lot of things while working with Debra, no matter whether it was organizing events or preparing teaching materials. Working with Debra helped me understand the operation of the wine industry more clearly. She was able to give me an insider perspective before I started the MW programme, explaining just how much work and dedication is involved.”
The MW programme is not easy to achieve. Despite of the difficulty of the examination content, the limit of time for study has always been a major factor that is worry to many wine students. Having the adequate time to make plan for study is vital, Sarah decided to switch to working part-time “It’s really hard to find a balance between your job and your studies. If you work full time it is so easy to be diverted to other things. I stopped working Full Time with Debra once I was about halfway through the programme. I was able to take some time for myself to strategically plan out my study schedule: how much time I was practicing tasting or exam writing techniques because all these are different skills you need to bring together.” The four years she spent studying for the MW occupied a lot of Sarah’s time, but she still thinks it is a fantastic experience— She gets to know interesting people from all different part of the industry from her class, including winemakers, journalists, educators and business people “It is always been a great thing when you meet like-minded person.”
The intelligent MW does only skilled with wine, she even able to combine it with her another forte—Art and Design. Sarah owns a boutique design agency Radix & Folium, in order to works with clients in the F&B and wine industries, provide market-appropriate packaging, branding and training materials. “At the moment we are all so focused on language and reading aroma descriptions. Maybe we should focus on the whole experience of learning, in which visuals can play a huge part. I hope I can use my design background to communicate about wine with visual media, and it will become interesting for people other than those who are already interested in wine. I hope I can help F&B and wine people from all over the world communicate well visually with the Hong Kong and Chinese market. Finding a clear, effective design - ideally with a twist - is probably a better place to focus than verbal content. ”
Sarah also writes columns for several media companies, teaches wine knowledge through the video app “ShowMuse”, and takes care to her children. At the beginning of 2018, the young proprietor continues the confluence of design and wine, her next project is to collaborate with a beverage or wine brand. Sarah Heller is definitely the best role model of our Generation Y— able to multitask on several things simultaneously. We are looking forward to see her next move!
對資深葡萄酒學員來說，榮獲葡萄酒大師(Master of Wine)的名銜絕對是其中一項最重要成就。他們除了對葡萄酒抱持的宏大的熱愛，還願意花超過10年以上時間學習認識浩瀚的酒海世界。不過年輕葡萄酒愛好者Sarah Heller卻改變我們的看法，她僅僅花了8年時間學習葡萄酒，就已經在去年獲得MW的重要名銜，更成為目前全球最年輕的葡萄酒大師(29歲而已)。這名年輕有為的80後的葡萄酒歷程真的不可思議，不如我們現在了解當中的奇妙之處。