Ashley Hausman MW ##Photo provided

Q&A: Ashley Hausman MW

Master of Wine and Mistral Wine Co. owner

In 2008, while completing her master’s in English at New York University, Ashley Hausman MW humbly entered the wine industry. A year later, she moved to Denver to manage Little’s Fine Wine & Spirits. In addition to working in imports and distribution, she climbed the certification ladder, eventually earning her Master of Wine in 2017. Hausman currently teaches for the Wine Education Institute while organizing many private and public events through her business, Mistral Wine Co., which she formed in 2014. Recently, she was awarded the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux États-Unis Scholarship for outstanding performance in the Institute of Masters of Wine’s North American Education Programme. When she’s not teaching, selling or drinking wine, she’s reading, writing, running, cooking or obsessing over her dog. Learn more about her at

How did you first become interested in wine?

AH: Too early, if we are talking interest. I was in my teens when I discovered White Zin paired well with James Dean movies. But perhaps when I became compelled to know more, I was at a more appropriate age, around 24. I was living in New York City on a diet of books, pasta and inexpensive imported wine while studying for my master’s in English literature. One evening, my roommate’s very cultured friend who worked at the esteemed Sherry-Lehmann wine shop shared an aged bottle of Lopez de Heredia Rioja. It was the first time I had ever tasting anything … well … magical. I kid you not: I immediately got a position stocking shelves on the Upper East Side and committed to learning everything I could about this transformative beverage.

What inspired you to earn your Master of Wine?

AH: The thing that got me to fall so hard so fast was the endless nature of wine education. One bottle opened up a set of questions — around history, geography, geology, culture, science and economy — I may have never thought to explore otherwise. I wanted to know more. As I started to seek out how, I read a book by Jancis Robinson MW. I became a little obsessed. She was the epitome of academic wine achievement to me. Using certifications as a roadmap, I put one foot in front of the next and pursued a sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as advanced and diploma degrees from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. At every level, I discovered how little I knew. I also learned quickly the answers weren’t the goal. Rather, the questions were the whole point. It was exciting and neverending. It still is. The journey back then was as sustained by my curiosity as the journey is now. Mastery is a lifelong process.

What is the latest wine that changed your perception (of the variety, region, producer)?

AH: I have a soft spot for emerging regions. I always root for the underdog and relish when they manage to surprise. This is how I felt when I tasted the wines from Nathan Littlejohn of Monkshood Winery in Colorado. His Chenin Blanc and Syrah aren’t just “impressive for Colorado.” They are sensational in their own right compared to any other in their price and variety category. They really demonstrate the potential of a place when guided by skillful hands. Cracks open so many possibilities for a lot of regions. I have similarly been struck by several wines from Southern Oregon — Maison Jussiaume Blanc de Blancs comes to mind.

Your general thoughts on Oregon wine? Any favorites?

AH: I am hooked on Willamette Chardonnay right now. I nearly uprooted my life recently to move there and learn how to make it — still not out of the question. I think the potential for greatness in this grape is only just beginning to be realized in the Willamette. Favorites include Lingua Franca, Evening Land, Cameron Clos Electrique and, of course, Walter Scott. Not only are they making some of the most riveting examples of single vineyard Chardonnay in the Valley, Ken and his wife, Erica, are building something that goes beyond the bottle. Something truly special. They are really going deep into issues that impact the soil, the community and greater issues in the world, politically, socially and environmentally. I really enjoy following their social media. I also have to say that I am really digging the experimentation that has been happening with less traditional grapes, like Grüner Veltliner, Mencia and Blaufränkisch — Johan makes a fantastic one.

Any upcoming projects to share with OWP readers?

AH: So many! I just relocated to Minnesota to be closer to family, where I find myself in a vibrant, enthusiastic wine scene — so many opportunities and ideas are bubbling. I am currently enjoying a wide array of freelance projects I run through my consulting business, Mistral Wine Co, which has me working alongside a lot of different organizations. For example, I have been helping a friend, Martin Reyes MW, with his company Reyes Wine Group as he transitions from general consulting to green-focused initiatives. I think that is one of the most dynamic and imperative spaces right now for this industry to engage with, so I have been thrilled to be a part of that. In fact, I am pursuing my own venture as well — a concept that will place sustainability at its center. I wish I could say more, but it’s still coming together. Be sure to follow @sowhatwine on Instagram, and I, hopefully, will have more to share soon.


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