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Canada's First Resident Master of Wine (October 7, 2003)

Igor Ryjenkov, a product consultant for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, has become the first Canadian resident to be a Master of Wine.

This coveted title is one of the hardest to attain in any academic discipline. The Institute of Masters of Wine is based in London, England. Its aims are to promote the highest quality in wine, in wine education and in wine trade conduct. Since 1953 only 240 Masters of Wine in 17 countries have passed the exam.

Born in Russia, Igor Ryjenkov, came to Canada in late 1992 from Moscow, where he received his degree in International Journalism and Foreign Languages at Moscow's Institute of International Relations.

His interest in wine was kindled by a tutored tasting held at a winery in the Niagara Peninsula in 1994. "Shortly after," he said, "I joined the now-defunct Sommelier Guild of Canada, using their weekly tastings and a great deal of homework to build up knowledge to better understand and appreciate the fascinating subject of wine."

The hobby turned serious in 1996 after he started the Wine & Spirit Education Trust course offered in Toronto by the Independent Wine Education Guild. He acquired the Certificates and the Diploma between 1996 and 1999. He was top of his class for the higher Certificate, won a scholarship and passed the Diploma with honours. Upon completion of the Diploma, he was hired by the LCBO as a Vintages Product Consultant.

Igor enrolled in the Master of Wine course in the 1999–2000 academic year. He won one of two North American scholarships in 2001 and 2002, passing the blind tasting portion of the MW exam in 2001 and the theory part in 2002. To complete his course he wrote a 7,000-word dissertation, entitled "SWOT Analysis of the Ontario Wine Industry in the Global Context."

Tony Aspler, a member of the Advisory Board for Masters of Wine (North America), was one of three examiners of the dissertation. "Igor's understanding of the complexities of the Ontario wine industry will make his paper a useful tool in how the industry should conduct its business in the future," commented Aspler. "I had no hesitation in recommending a passing grade."

Three other Canadians are Masters of Wine, but none are resident in Canada: David Lake, the winemaker for Columbia Winery, lives in Washington State; David Gleave, a wine merchant, lives in London; and Michael Palij imports Italian wines in Oxford.

 

 

 

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