I suspect if you ask any Master of Wine candidate what will make them an MW they will point to success on their upcoming exams. Ask any winemaker what made them a winemaker and they will recall their first vintage in which they were responsible for the final product.
But both would be wrong.
A Master of Wine is someone who spent countless hours studying and tasting, enduring the grind of learning endless details about wine production, and daily sharpening taste memories to draw correct conclusions from the vague and elusive sensations.
A winemaker is someone who spends February with pruning shears, March with trellising wires, and April with a hoe. They spend summers with a wine thief tasting barrel samples and taking notes, the fall taking fruit samples, estimating yields, and driving the harvest, and winter on the bottling line or schlepping for sales.
It’s the effort, difficulty, and ingenuity of getting through each day that makes someone what they are. It’s process that builds and creates. The accomplishment is just an afterthought.