Over 500 wine and spirits influencers and professionals from across the world gathered last night at the historic Guildhall, City of London, UK to celebrate the annual Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Awards & Graduation.
16 graduates from Australia were announced as achieving the coveted WSET Diploma and will each be given a one year free Wine Communicators of Australia membership.
Two Australian WSET candidates, Samuel Winfield and Melissa Mills, were also honoured with awards for outstanding results.
Hosted for the first time by new WSET Honorary President, Steven Spurrier alongside WSET Chief Executive, Ian Harris, the occasion attracted attendance from industry leaders and long-standing WSET supporters including Marius Berlemann, Laura Jewell, Richard Paterson and Jancis Robinson.
Australians made up 16 of the year’s 440 WSET Diploma graduates and their achievements were celebrated as some of only 9,000 people in the world to have ever held the accolade.
Graduates and award winners hailed from the UK and USA to China and Japan, representing the global reach and relevance of WSET qualifications.
The WSET Level 4 Diploma is WSET’s highest qualification and recognised globally as one of the most distinguished achievements in the sector.
The course develops an in-depth knowledge of wines and spirits, from production, regions and styles, and the global trade in wines and spirits.
The Diploma is also universally viewed as the stepping stone to the Master of Wine qualification.
Upon successful completion graduates receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin, and are able to use the post-nominal DipWSET and associated WSET certified logo.
“Our graduates and award winners come from all walks of life, both within the drinks trade and outside, and we’re proud to honour their achievements”
WSET Chief Executive, Ian Harris, said that knowledgeable professionals and consumers are proving increasingly important for the future success of the wine and spirits industry.
“Thanks to the hard work of our educators, Approved Programme Providers and the WSET team the academic year 2016/17 marked 15 years of consecutive growth for WSET, with over 85,000 candidates worldwide completing a WSET qualification during the year.”
“Our graduates and award winners come from all walks of life, both within the drinks trade and outside, and we’re proud to honour their achievements.”
“We hope they will inspire others across the world to develop their education,” Harris said.
As the student who achieved the highest overall mark across the WSET Diploma in his year, Moritz Mueller was the winner of this year’s Vintners’ Cup and Scholarship.
Moritz Mueller: Vintner’s Cup Winner. Credit, Ede and Ravenscroft
Originally from Germany, Moritz now lives in the UK and studied his WSET Diploma at WSET School London alongside his high-flying job in the world of finance.
He is one of the rare individuals outside of the wine and spirits trade to have won the accolade since WSET started offering courses to consumers in 1991.
Another honour presented on the night was the Riedel Trophy for the WSET Educator of the Year, awarded to the individual or company that has made a significant contribution to the delivery of WSET courses and qualifications.
This year’s winner was Eno Cultura, Brazil. Thiago Mendes and Paulo Brammer set up Eno Cultura in Säo Paulo in 2013 and now run courses across the country.
Impressive growth has been matched with excellent exam results and their introduction of scholarships has enabled more members of the trade to access WSET courses.
They have also instigated several social projects across South America.
Australian Award Winners:
Samuel Winfield from North Fremantle, WA is the winner of The Laithwaite’s Australia Prize for achieving an outstanding result in his WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits.
Winfield, who studied his WSET award at Full Bottle Wine Education & Events, is founder of Wines of While, a neighbourhood wine store and bar in Perth pouring natural wines with thoughtful foods.
He will receive funds from Laithwaite’s to study a wine or spirit producing region of his choice.
“The WSET course for me was the opportunity to develop structured tasting habits which has really aided my appreciation of each wine I drink, regardless of the level of formality, the occasion or the style,” he said.
“It feels very humbling to have won the Laithwaite’s Award and I can’t wait to use the bursary to explore the small, organic and biodynamic producers of the Auvergne and Languedoc-Roussillon.”
“I hope the foundations laid through the WSET course put me in good stead for running my own little wine store and bar,” Winfield said.
Melissa Mills from North Melbourne is the winner of the IWC Sake Prize as a student who achieved outstanding results in the WSET Level 3 Sake course.
Mills, who studied her WSET Award at Prince Wine Store, is now developing an online sake education, information and event platform.
She will be invited to join the World’s elite Sake judges to judge Sake at the IWC in 2018.
“My Sake journey started on a desperately cold, snowy day in January 2014 in a small 300-year-old brewery in Gifu Prefecture, Japan,” Mills said.
“I was completely, blindly smitten with Sake but I knew almost zero about it and couldn’t even decipher the label on the bottle until WSET Level 3 Award in Sake started in Melbourne, Australia.”
“The course really appeased my thirst for knowledge as it was incredibly comprehensive, with exposure to so many varieties of Sake – truly no grain of rice was left unturned.”
“This award has been a huge surprise and I am extremely honoured and very excited by the possibility of meeting and learning from my Sake heroes and I am really hoping I can translate this experience to enhance the craft and culture of Sake and make it accessible for the “everyman,” she said.
Leone Becker (Sydney Wine Academy)
Nicole Bilson (Prince Wine Store)
Vicki Brewer (Sydney Wine Academy)
Georgia Colbert (Prince Wine Store)
Megan Cox (Sydney Wine Academy)
Lee Hayward (Sydney Wine Academy)
Walter Henao (Sydney Wine Academy)
Chris Horsley (Sydney Wine Academy)
Jie Hu (Prince Wine Store)
Alex Kirkwood (Sydney Wine Academy)
Tessa Jane Murray (Prince Wine Store)
Alexander Potarzycki (WSET School London)
Xavier Vigier (Sydney Wine Academy)
Adeline Zimmermann (Prince Wine Store)
See the full list of graduates and award winners in our 2018 Yearbook on the dedicated microsite here
To learn more about WSET courses and find a local Approved Programme Provider visit the website at www.WSETglobal.com