WSET honours latest graduates at annual awards ceremony

More than 500 wine and spirits professionals from around the world attended the annual Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) awards and graduation held at the Guildhall in the City of London last week.

Moritz Mueller (centre), Vintner’s Cup winner.

Held on 22 January, this year’s event was hosted for the first time by the new WSET honorary president, Steven Spurrier, along with WSET chief executive Ian Harris.

An impressive 440 WSET Diploma graduates from around the world were honoured as they each became one of just over 9,000 people to hold the accolade. As well as the Diploma graduates, outstanding WSET educators and candidates for the 2016/17 academic year were also recognised for their achievements. The Diploma, the fourth level and highest qualification offered by WSET, is recognised globally as one of the most distinguished achievements in the industry.

Harris said: “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 more than 85,000 candidates worldwide completing a WSET qualification during the year”.

Highest overall mark

This year’s recipient of the Vintners’ Cup and Scholarship, the prize for the highest overall mark across the WSET Diploma, was Moritz Mueller (main photo, centre). Hailing from Germany, Mueller now lives in the UK and studied for his Diploma at WSET School London, alongside his high-powered job in finance. He is one of only a small number of people who work outside the wine and spirits trade to have won the award since WSET started offering its courses to consumers in 1991.

Commenting on his victory, Mueller said: “I chose to study the WSET Diploma because after years of enjoying wine as a hobby, I wanted to meet more like-minded people and develop a more thorough, systematic understanding of the wines of the world.

“I was honestly in shock when I found out I’d won the award. It is a wonderful thought that with great teachers and friends, hard work and a lot of passion one can achieve a special result.

“I would love to do more focused research into specific terroirs. I have come to realise that I love wines from limestone soils, and doing more exploration in this field could be exciting.”

Jancis Robinson MW was the key note speaker.

Also decorated at the event was the winner of this year’s Riedel Trophy for WSET Educator of the Year, Eno Cultura, based in Brazil. Eno Cultura was founded in Säo Paulo in 2013 by Thiago Mendes and Paulo Brammer, and now runs courses across the country. Its “impressive growth” rate has been matched by excellent exam results across the board, while it also offers scholarships, enabling more members of the trade in Brazil to gain access to WSET courses.

Co-founders Brammer and Mendes said: “The nomination itself was already an immense honour for us. We feel extremely grateful for having been recognised for outstanding results in such a challenging wine market as the one in Brazil. Having been shortlisted already puts us as an important reference for wine education in the region. Being picked as the number one on the list sends an unequivocal signal that the joint effort of WSET and Eno Cultura has put Brazil and LATAM on the global map of wine education.”

Exceptional results

Among those also commended at the awards ceremony are the graduates who achieved exceptional results across all WSET examination levels. These include Fiona MacDonald from the Isle of Jura, who was awarded The Worshipful Company of Distillers’ Prize as a student working in the UK wine and spirit trade. She achieved outstanding results in her WSET Level 2 Award in spirits. MacDonald, a tour guide at Whyte and Mackay, will receive funds from the Worshipful Company of Distillers to study a spirit-producing region of her choice.

Rodney Willis Jr from Texas was the winner of this year’s Wine Australia USA & Canada prize as a student working in the wine and spirit trade who achieved notable results in his WSET Level 3 Award in Wines. Willis is a fine wine specialist at distributor RNDC, and has won a trip to study a wine-producing region in Australia.

Minjie Wu from Shanghai received the Wines of Germany prize as a student who works in the wine and spirit trade and achieved outstanding results across the WSET Diploma. Wu is a senior wine tutor at Ease Scent, and a wine buyer for private customers. He was awarded a study trip as a guest of Wines of Germany.

Ex-England rugby player Andrew Sheridan was also among the award winners. Sheridan has said that the art of blind wine tasting has a lot in common with scrummaging, as both require decision making under pressure. He was given the Bibendum-Matthew Clark prize as a top Diploma gradate who is looking to start a career in the wine and spirit trade. He has been given a five-day work experience stint with Conviviality Direct.

For the full list of graduates and award winners visit graduation.wsetglobal.com.

One Response to “WSET honours latest graduates at annual awards ceremony”

  1. Klark Kent says:

    my turn to attend in a matter of time….1/2 way done now

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