Marlborough-based Sophie Parker-Thomson has become the South Island’s first ever Master of Wine following an announcement from the Institute of Masters of Wine on Friday.

The Institute named Parker-Thomson among 10 new Masters of Wine from around the world, with the other nine all based in the Northern Hemisphere. 

The Master of Wine (MW) title is one of the most prestigious wine certifications one can attain, with the blind-tasting examinations averaging a 10% pass rate. 

“Studying for the MW entails the highest highs and the lowest lows; it really is a journey in self-understanding, humility and knowing how far you can push yourself,” says Parker-Thomson.

In addition to the 36-wine blind tasting examinations, theoretical knowledge is examined across viticulture, winemaking, the business of wine and contemporary issues impacting the wine industry.

Once successful in the theory and practical exams, candidates must research and write a 10,000-word paper on a topic of choice that will ultimately benefit the industry.

Parker-Thomson says she chose her research topic, “What is the Relationship Between the Use of Sulphur Dioxide and Biogenic Amine Levels in Wine?”, because of the significant public health interest surrounding the issue of wine intolerance.

Parker-Thomson and her husband Matt own and operate a small-batch winery venture, Blank Canvas, which they launched together in 2013, and they also run a wine industry consultancy.

“Sophie is the 15th New Zealand based MW which gives us, according to my calculations, the second highest number of MWs per capita narrowly behind the UK where the MW qualification originated 65 years ago,” says fellow Master of Wine, Bob Campbell.

Parker-Thomson joins 149 women MWs globally with the total number of MWs in the world now 418 in 32 countries.

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