Sydney sommelier wins scholarship

The 16th annual Daniel Pontifex scholarship has been awarded to Alexander Kirkwood of Sydney’s Rockpool Bar and Grill.

Pontifex Scholarship winner Alex Kirkwood at work

Pontifex Scholarship winner Alex Kirkwood at work

The Daniel Pontifex Memorial Trust, with the support of Wine Australia, has awarded its eponymous scholarship to Rockpool’s Alexander Kirkwood, who will now travel to Europe early next year to gain first hand experience of European restaurants and wine regions.

On being awarded the scholarship, Kirkwood said: “It’s every sommelier’s dream to visit the vineyards and cellars of Europe so I want to say thank you to all involved in the selection process.”

“I can’t wait to learn as much as I can through the Pontifex scholarship, I know this will be one of the defining experiences of my wine and hospitality career.”

The judges were Michael Hill-Smith of Shaw and Smith Wines, and Aaron Brasher, Wine Australia’s regional director for Asia and emerging markets.

“Alex stood out as someone with incredible enthusiasm and already has an impressive knowledge of wine,” said Hill Smith.

“He demonstrated a real commitment to a career in wine and hospitality, sometimes overcoming adversity and setbacks to achieve his goals. We admired his tenacity.”

Brasher added: “The Daniel Pontifex Scholarship is unique in our industry and helps us foster the next generation of wine influencers.”

The Pontifex scholarship was established in 1998 to celebrate the life of a young Australian, Daniel Pontifex, who was killed in a car accident while working at London’s Kengsington Place restaurant.

The scholarship contributes funds to support successful candidates in broadening their industry knowledge abroad.

Last year’s scholarship recipient was Daniel Gibson, sommelier at Melbourne’s Epocha restaurant.

Since its inception, the foundation has sent 11 winners from Australia to Europe, and reciprocally hosted four winners from Europe to Australia.

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