Sevilla and Ballesteros named Caballeros

María José Sevilla and Pedro Ballesteros MW were inducted into the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino in London last night for their “outstanding contribution” to the Spanish wine industry.

María José Sevilla and Pedro Ballesteros MW

The pair were bequeathed with the honour at the Dorchester hotel in Park Lane by the Spanish ambassador Carlos Bastarreche and María Luisa Poncela, the Spanish secretary of state for trade.

Founded in 1984, the Gran Orden recognises those who have “acted over and above the call of duty” in their promotion of Spanish wines in the UK.

The doyenne of Spanish food and wine in the UK, María José Sevilla stepped down as Director of Foods & Wines from Spain in January.

Working for the Trade Commission of the Spanish Embassy in the UK for 30 years, the last 17 spent in the role of director, Sevilla has played a pivotal role in the promotion of Spanish food and wine in Britain, and is known for her tireless enthusiasm and passion.

As part of her role she worked closely with the UK wine trade to flag up Spain’s emerging wine regions, indigenous grapes and dizzying diversity.

A well-known and much loved figure in the trade, Sevilla has written numerous books on food and wine and presented the popular BBC TV series on Spanish cooking, Spain on a Plate, in the ‘90s, which won a Glenfiddich award in 1992.

Sevilla is currently putting the finishing touches on an epic tome on the history of Spanish food and wine, due to be published in the UK next year.

Ballesteros MW began his wine journey with a masters degree in viticulture and oenology. Further studies in Spain, France, Belgium, the US, Austria and Germany saw him complete the WSET diploma.

In 2010 he became a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine. He judges at wine competitions around the world, including the Concours Mondial in Brussels and the Copa Jerez.

Styling himself as a “flying wine storyteller and educator”, Ballesteros writes for a plethora of wine magazines across the globe and is a consultant for the Spanish branch of the OIV (the International Organisation for Vines and Wine).

He also gives lectures and tutored tastings on Spanish wines all over the world.

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