They’re just two, little initials. But fewer than 300 people worldwide have earned the right to add these prestigious letters after their names. In fact, only 100 of them are outside of the U.K. And only seven of them are women.

A “Master of Wine” has truly reached the most towering of achievements in the wine industry. To earn the right to use the abbreviated form, “MW,” after one’s moniker, is a testament to untold hours of study and practical understanding of the art, science and business of wine.

Women for WineSense’s very own Dr. Liz Thach has earned the right to add the coveted letters after her name:

Dr. Liz Thach, MW

[Round of well-deserved applause and ovation!]

The Institute of Masters of Wine recently conveyed this esteemed qualification and title on Dr. Thach and will formally induct her into the institute in its annual awards ceremony and reception at Vintners’ Hall held in London in November of this year.

Dr. Liz Thach, MW

Dr. Liz Thach, MW

Are you curious about the rigors of the exam? The first part is four, separate exam papers on viticulture, winemaking and wine business. Then (presuming you progress) you’d face three blind tasting exams with no less than a dozen wines each. You’d have to write up extraordinarily detailed analyses of each of the wines tasted before moving on to phase three of the examination. Last up would be your dissertation.

We’ve reduced the exam requirements to a rather cursory summary above, but when the exams were first given in 1953, of the 21 candidates only six passed. While the exam has changed a bit over the years, the difficulty of achieving the honor remains highly challenging. The first female MW, Sarah Morphew Stephen, passed the exam and was awarded membership into the institute in 1970.

Dr. Thach, WWS’ outgoing Director of Education just this month, was also recently appointed Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute’s Korbel Professor in Wine Business.

You can learn more about Dr. Thach’s milestone achievement here and her recent appointment to the Korbel Professorship here.

Congratulations, Dr. Liz Thach, MW!