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Paola Medina, our Master Blender and Technical Director, for International Women’s Day

Meet Paola Medina, our Master Blender and Technical Director, for International Women’s Day

Paola Media - Master Blender

What is International Women’s Day?

Happy International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2022! The core spirit of International Women’s Day (IWD) is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout the world and to promote gender equality. First celebrated way back in the early 1900’s, March 8th became the agreed upon day of honor in 1914. Check out more of the history here. This day of tribute can be shared and celebrated by any and all who wish to engage with their community. This year’s theme comes with a hashtag: #BreaktheBias and if you’re feeling especially celebratory, the colors of IWD are purple, green & white which symbolize justice, dignity & hope. Share a pic on your social platform with the hashtag and cross your arms to show solidarity.

Who is Paola Medina?

Dos Maderas Story - Paola Medina

“One of my earliest childhood memories is joyfully running between the butts at the bodega not yet aware of the treasure that surrounded me. Being a member of the second generation of Medinas who own the Bodega, I feel tremendously proud of the legacy we inherited. Our ethos is to honor our inheritance by combining tradition with innovation, thanks to the years of accumulated experience making Spirits and Sherry.”

Paola Medina Sheldon is a modern icon in winemaking and rum blending. She is the Master Blender and Technical Director at Dos Maderas as well as head oenologist at Williams & Humbert. She belongs to the second generation of the Medina family who have owned and operated Bodegas Williams & Humbert since the 1980’s. Born in Sevilla, Paola was only a child when her family bought the ownership rights of what is today, Europe’s largest wine warehouse & winemaking facility under one roof. The aforementioned memory reminisces a time playing in a previous bodega based in Sanlúcar de Barrameda which like most bodegas of said region, are much much smaller, quaint even, with far less inventory and space to roam. Williams & Humbert consists of eight contiguous warehouses with seventy thousand square meters of surface area housing sixty-five thousand American oak casks for aging sherry, brandy and rum. Imagine almost 14 football fields if you will. It was quite an upgrade for a playground, perhaps?

What is Paola’s wine background?

Paola’s professional tenure at the Bodega began in 2010. Prior to that, she matriculated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Granada, earned a degree in Enology from the University of Cadiz as well as a Masters in Viticulture, Enology and Legislation from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Before 2010, she worked in “Cellar 14 Viñas” in Ciudad Real, helming various wine related positions starting in 1999.

How does Paola feel about Sherry?

“I have been lucky enough to experience the world of Sherry since childhood, to understand it and enjoy it. But together with this connection and family heritage, I have to say that as a winemaker, few wines arouse as much passion as the wines of Jerez, as much for their variety as for their particular methods of production.” 

Last January, Paola Medina was named as one of the top 6 leading winemakers in Spain in Decanter Magazine for her celebrated passion and innovation leading the Sherry Revolution in Spain and beyond. It is her love of Sherry that has led her to pursue the Dos Maderas project wherein Caribbean Rum gets elevated with Sherry cask maturation. In 2018, Decanter also tagged her as one of the top 10 Next-Generation winemakers to watch in Spain to lead the country forward. Medina breaks the mold while at the same time honors legacies, traditions and the soul of wine. At Williams & Humbert she launched a series of Single-Vintage Fino en Ramas that expressly highlighted the flor terroir of a single harvest. Flor, being the native yeast that grows on the must and fermented wine in the bodegas, has varying character and attributes that are clearly influenced by climate, geography and more making it a strong influence on the “terroir” of individual sherry butts. Additionally, she created vintage Amontillados, Palo Cortados & Olorosos that are also delicately singular, expressing terroir both through the land but also via the biological character of the flor & cask history to varying degrees.

“I work in the elaboration of wines with marked personality and clearly defined style. My philosophy is to respect the personality of these wines. A winemaker must contribute their knowledge so that wines mature revealing the best of their character. The goal is not to try and change them, but to help them age showing their best qualities. The biggest challenge is to not lose sight of quality and to commit ourselves to our wines, our land, our traditions and our history.”

How does Paola feel about Rum?

After about a year into her career at Williams & Humbert, Paola worked to launch the Dos Maderas brand with the goal of bringing the two worlds of Rum and Sherry together as a singular expression of excellence. Sherry cask aging of spirits, while not at all a new concept, did not have a ton of representation in the world of sugarcane spirits like rum. Dos Maderas translates to “Two Woods,” a nod to the initial aging of Caribbean rum with ex-bourbon casks followed by the final aging in rare old Sherry casks. She is quite passionate about exploring the versatility of aged rums with the nuance of sherry and has adapted the famed Solera System of aging used to blend sherry into the process of maturing rums.

“I try to infuse to our Dos Maderas rum all the wealth of knowledge and experience gained by Williams & Humbert over more than 150 years making Sherry and Brandy de Jerez. To work with such complex and historical sherry wines has been a fundamental influence on my work as master blender. We should not forget the enduring and long tradition of the art of blending in the Jerez region.”

What is Paola’s favorite Cocktail?

Dos-Maderas-rum-Cocktail-Rum Runner - HERO - 1

Apart from enjoying the exquisite complexity of sipping sherry, rum and brandy solo, Medina is also a fan of cocktails with all three ingredients. Although if you ask her to pick a favorite of her children, it can be quite tricky for her to choose one world over another. On her suggestion for this time of year, try the Rum Runner recipe!

Rum Runner: The term Rum-Running is sibling to Bootlegging channelling the best forms of booze piracy during Prohibition in America. Below is a list of ingredients to make the shaken version over crushed ice. If you have a blender, check out the recipe page to learn more.

  • 6 fresh blackberries, muddled
  • 1.5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
  • .5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+5 Rum
  • 1 oz. Crème de Banane (preferably Tempus Fugit)
  • 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
  • .5 oz. fresh orange juice
  • .5 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .25 oz. pomegranate based grenadine


Author:  Chantal Tseng, DC Bar-Somm

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