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The Institute of Masters of Wine

Vision and Mission

The Institute's vision is one of knowledge and integrity - scientia atque integritas. Through our members – the international community of 409 Masters of Wine – and our activities, we promote excellence, interaction, diversity and learning across all sectors of the global wine community.

Master of Wine


A Master of Wine is someone who has demonstrated, by way of rigorous examination, a thorough knowledge of all aspects of wine and an ability to communicate that knowledge clearly. They actively encourage others in the pursuit of knowledge as well as seeking to bring wine communities together.

A brief history

In 1953 a set of examinations were organised by The Worshipful Company of Vintners, one of London's great Livery Companies, to identify those individuals in the English wine trade who could be deemed to be the best in the land. Six men passed the examination and, in 1955, along with three others who passed in 1954, The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) was founded.

In the years since a total of 483 people have passed the examinations and currently, 18 January 2021, there are 409 active Masters of Wine. Interestingly, two years after IMW was formed the Russians sent Sputnik into orbit, thereby commencing the space age. In the years since then, over 550 people have been in space!

In 1970 the male bastion was breached by Sarah Morphew-Stephen, and since then the number of members identifying as women has risen to pretty much one-third the total number. For what it's worth, this is a better percentage than something like 75% or more national governments worldwide. In 1984, Jancis Robinson became the first non-trade member.

Although Aileen Trew, who passed in 1979, could claim to be the first international member, being Irish, that accolade is normally reserved for Michael Hill Smith from Australia, who passed in 1988. Currently, members live and work in 30 countries and, although IMW was founded in London and is very closely connected to The Worshipful Company of Vintners, there is no doubt that IMW is a global organisation, currently with students from over 40 countries.

Naturally, it is of vital importance to recognise the Irish contingent, which one might expect to be small but noisy. Actually, it's large and noisy as there are 19 Irish MWs, which is 4.6% of our active membership.

For more information please visit The Institute of Masters of Wine website.