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2 California North Coast women earn Master of Wine titles

Kryss Speegle, lead of corporate wine and spirits sales with O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, and Clare Tooley, director of wine development for Lionstone International, are the two from the North Bay among the 10 new inductees into the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Speegle has spent a decade working with Larkspur-based O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, starting as winemaker from 2011-2014, then promoted to director of winemaking from 2014-2017, overseeing production of over 20 million gallons of wine. After a move to the San Francisco Bay Area, she shifted into her current O’Neill sales and education position,

Prior to her time with O’Neill Vintners & Distillers, Speegle received her Master of Science degree from the UC Davis in 2002 and went on to become an enologist and lab manager at Ravenswood Winery from 2003-2006. Speegle was also assistant winemaker for Kenwood Vineyards from 2006-2011 and winemaker for Lake Sonoma Winery from 2009-2011.

Tooley lives in California with her husband and two sons. She oversees sourcing for national wine clubs at Sonoma-based Lionstone International, including the Wall Street Journal, Laithwaites, Virgin, TCM, NPR and National Geographic.

She began her wine life in London with John Armit Wines after completing a French and Spanish degree and choral scholarship at Clare College, Cambridge University. Joining Direct Wines Ltd as a buyer in 2000, she moved to France in 2006. She lived near Bordeaux for eight years, managing the group’s winery and traveling extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Tooley is a Champagne Academician (class of 2004) and has been inducted as a Chevalier of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne.

The Master of Wine exam has three parts: theory, practice and a research paper on a wine-related in the sciences, arts, humanities or social sciences.

There are now 418 Master of Wine title holders globally — 149 women and 269 men — living or working in 32 countries. Since the first exam in 1953, 493 people have earned the designation.

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