Sonal Holland (47) was Director of National Sales at Kelly Services, a US-based Fortune 500 company, for six years before quitting her decade-long corporate career in 2007, to do something different. The Mumbai-based MBA graduate’s life changed when her husband – Andrew Holland, another corporate veteran – suggested that she become a Master of Wine, a global honour which no Indian had achieved then.
In 2008, Sonal moved to the UK to study wine, although she had no prior exposure to the food and beverages industry. Sonal won Level 4 Diploma in Wines from the London-based Wine & Spirits Education Trust, after which she entered the Institute of Masters of Wine (in 2011) – the first Indian to do so.
Leaving her infant daughter in the care of her family was heart breaking for Sonal when she went to London for education. But her hard work over eight years bore fruit when, in 2016, she became India’s first Master of Wine. To date, Sonal is the only Indian whom the title has been bestowed upon.
Countless accolades have followed this prestigious honour for Sonal. Now India’s most prominent wine consultant as well as an entrepreneur, she aims to spread awareness on wine in India, and encourage more wine enthusiasts to pursue this as a career. Her entrepreneurial ventures, the SoHo Wine Club (founded in 2016), is now the country’s most influential wine society that curates wines and experiences. She also founded the Sonal Holland Wine Academy (2009), offering certified WSET wine and spirit courses, and which offers even online courses now. Sonal had also had a stint as the Corporate Head of Wine and Beverages at ITC Hotels. Currently, she is the Wine Buyer and Consultant for luxury food retail chain Foodhall.
In a recent chat with MAKERS India, Sonal opened up about her journey before achieving the coveted title, and the path before her.
(Interview by Athira Nair; Produced by Urmi Chatterjee) Also Watch: