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WineBusiness reports that California-based Raley’s has announced that "Curtis Mann, the organization’s Director of Alcohol & Beverage, has been named Master of Wine (MW) by the Institute of Masters of Wine. As the most prestigious wine certification in the world, Mann will join an accomplished group of 396 Masters around the world, with only 53 of those residing in the United States."

Mann is described as "currently the only Master of Wine buying for a grocery chain in the United States."

The story notes that "the MW examination was first held in 1953 and is designed to test the breadth and depth of one’s theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the art, science, and business of wine. To receive the elite certification, Mann passed the Institute's examination, which consists of several theory and practical exams and culminates in the submission of a final research paper … Mann joined Raley’s in 2013. As the grocer’s wine buyer, he gained much of his knowledge for the MW through his experience at Raley’s, traveling the world finding unique wines and meeting with winemakers and winery owners."

KC's View:

Congrats to Raley's and Mann … a great wine department, staffed by smart people, can be a wonderful differentiator and is totally worth the investment.  There are few things more dispiriting, at least to me, than a crappy wine department … such a thing reeks of disinterest, and of opportunity lost.