More than 1.54 million people work from home for their main job, according to data from the Office of National Statistics. It’s a trend which has increased by nearly 75% over a decade. Another 2.66 million work in different places but use their home as a base.
In Chiswick it’s easy to see why you’d opt to stay here rather than squeeze yourself on to a crowded train and journey to work with your nose in someone else’s armpit, and many people have chosen to try and build a business working from home rather than put themselves through that every day – or even most days. As a part of our ‘staying put’ series we’re reporting on those Chiswickians who have decided to make a go of it.
Most of us like the odd glass of wine or two but Victoria Daskal is taking that a step further by pursuing her goal of becoming a Master of Wine.
Victoria has worked in the wine trade for over 12 years as a writer and educator but is now tackling the Olympics of the wine world, undertaking a rigorous 3-year (minimum) course to become an expert in all things wine. Now you too can benefit from Victoria’s expertise right here in Chiswick by joining her Mummy Wine Club or arranging a private wine tasting for you and those friends lucky enough to get an invitation.
“My love of wine began back in Boston where I grew up actually” Victoria told me. “I studied at McGill University in Montreal and did a double major in Economics and Psychology. Then I came back to Boston and started working in Finance and this is the classic wine story where after about a year I realised this is not for me.”
Victoria began taking wine courses in the evenings to add a little bit of zhuzh to her day to day life.
“I had this amazing teacher who went to Harvard and studied history” she said. “He infused his lessons with history so every time we were tasting wine he would be like, ‘Oh and by the way this was Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne.’ It was just fascinating, and it really blew my mind to think it’s not just a drink: it’s culture, history and geography and so much of what defines being human. That really gave me this idea that wine is much more than just an alcoholic beverage.”
Master of Wine
After joining the team at The World of Fine Wine magazine, Victoria decided to delve further into her passion whilst on maternity leave with her first child. She applied to the Institute of Masters of Wine in London for the MW programme – one of the highest levels you can reach within the wine world.
With a written reference from the late Master of Wine and Master Sommelier, Gerard Basset (a wine world legend), Victoria passed the entrance exam and went on to complete stage one of the rigorous three-part programme.
Victoria is hoping to finish stage two this year, a real corker of a task (pun intended) that would make any wine drinker tremble in their boots.
“You have to really train hard. You’re putting in about 20 hours a week on top of your job and family as you prepare for 4 days of exams including 3 days of blind tastings. For tasting exams you have 2 hours and 15 minutes to taste 12 wines completely blind and answer questions about them such as what region or country they are from, how they were made, what year they were made, and assess their quality levels. You’re tested on white wines on day one, red wines on day two, and mixed (such as sparkling, rose, sweet) on day three. It’s very technical and it’s a challenge.”
After having her second child, Victoria took a small break from the mammoth task of becoming a Master of Wine to focus on her family, but she wasn’t quite ready to leave cloud wine just yet. Hence the birth of Mummy Wine Club.
Mummy Wine Club
“There’s an array of mum and baby activities in Chiswick from baby massage to baby yoga”, Victoria told me, “but there’s not a huge amount for new mums to do while on maternity leave where the focus isn’t on the baby.”
“I had a lot of friends in the area who loved to cook and travel and enjoy wine so I thought okay I can create something where they can combine their interests and still bring the baby. Every week I was teaching them about different wine regions from Europe to South America. It was very nice, homey and lowkey. It wasn’t about drinking it was about learning the different grape varieties, learning the regions, the history and teaching them how to taste wine professionally.”
“The best thing about it is that a lot of them became friends, especially as I think maternity can be quite lonely for some people. Some of them might be used to having a career in the big city then suddenly they’re home with a baby. The wine club classes provided a social element where they knew that they had a few things in common – they both like wine (she laughs) and I’ve seen lovely friendships come out of it”
Since then Mummy Wine Club has evolved. Victoria has gone back to work as Managing Editor at The World of Fine Wine and her youngest is now in nursery. The club is now just for adults and is in the evenings and at weekends. Due to the popularity she also now runs wine-tastings for non-mums where anybody is welcome to attend regardless of whether you’re a wine aficionado or have never tasted a glass in your life.
“I can bring everything with me and set up a private tutored tasting at your home. Everything is included from the wine and food to professional glassware, spittoons and tasting sheets. What you’d expect is basically like a hybrid of a supper club, a wine workshop and masterclass but in a homely setting. It’s very relaxed and there’s nothing snobby or high pressure about it. It’s a nice way to chat and get together with your friends.”
Mummy Wine Club is open to any mums who are interested in the world of wine. To join the club all you have to do is sign up for a class, details of which can be found on Victoria’s website – victoriadaskal.com or visit her Instagram @mummywineclub.
The next Mummy Wine Club is:
Saturday 23rd November 12-14:30
8 Beaujolais cru wines paired with artisanal cheese and charcuterie
Alternatively, if you want to arrange your own wine get-together you can get in touch with Victoria via her website and take it from there.