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Sudbury sommelier to judge International Wine Challenge

A woman from Sudbury who is a wine expert -- or sommelier -- is heading to an important overseas event this month.

Heather Downey's knowledge of wine has allowed her to run a successful business and she is now off to be a judge in a prestigious contest.

She first discovered her love of wine while working at a restaurant.

"Early in my 20s, I worked at Ristorante Verdicchio here in Sudbury and I really fell in love with wine and maybe, more importantly, the marriage of food and wine and how together it became like a third entity," said Downey, owner of Terroir Tastings.

Her passion grew and she went on to complete the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) course.

From there she started Terroir Tastings, with the goal of offering private and corporate tastings. It quickly turned to wine distribution and sales, as well.

Now, she can add judge to her resume. Downey flies to London, England, on Sunday to take part in the 38th annual International Wine Challenge.

"This particular competition is one of the world's most coveted and also a very large one," she said.

"All of the wines are tasted blind -- we have no idea of the price, we have no idea of the producer. All the wines are tasted by numerous judging panels so, you know, it's been tasted a minimum of three times."

Judges are selected from around the world and Downey said it's something she has been preparing for and wanted to be part of for a very long time. She now has to take care of her taste buds to ensure she's ready.

"I gotta' make sure that you know, I don’t drink anything too hot or have hot coffee, soup, anything that might hurt my taste buds," Downey said.

"I gotta' make sure to stay away from anyone with the sniffles."

Downey said she will be tasting different wines from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a week straight.

She hopes to share her knowledge with her students when she returns to Sudbury and begins a seven-week WSET course at College Boreal in October.

"I teach Level 1 and Level 2 here in Sudbury," she said.

"I’ve done it for quite a few years and it's amazing because, for example, in Level 2, it’s a seven-week course and we taste between 50 to 70 wines."

More information on the course can be found here. Top Stories

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