WSET celebrates 50 years to the day with lavish dinner

The WSET celebrated 50 years to the day since its foundation with a dinner last night at the Vintners’ Hall in London – and we reveal the wines that were drunk, and some of the words that were said.

Having been founded on 17 October 1969, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust marked 50 years since its inception yesterday by holding a dinner for almost 150 leading members of the wine trade at the Vintners’ Hall in the heart of London.

Giving the welcome address was Master Vintner Christopher Davey, who gave a quick record of the WSET’s past, pointing out that the educational trust was in fact born out of the Wine Trade Club, which was established in 1908 by writer and merchant André Simon, and ran lectures for professionals until 1955, when the Wine and Spirit Association took over, and then, almost 15 years later, the WSET was founded.

Notably, he said that the first WSET course, based on Simon’s book In Vino Veritas, was given in the same space in the Vintners Hall where the guests were dining.

He also said that it was “50 years ago to this day that the WSET was created”, and, stressing the extraordinary growth of the trust since its foundation, he added, “It is now an international brand of serious education,” recording that during the one year period to the end of 2018, 100,000 people studied with the WSET in 75 countries, with the body providing courses in 18 different languages.

“Congratulations WSET and all who have sailed in her,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, WSET CEO Ian Harris joked that the event last night was “like a private dinner party with a massive and dysfunctional family around me.”

On a more serious note, he chose the evening celebration to highlight the increased gender balance among the students who have passed through the WSET.

In the first year of the WSET diploma there were no women, now we are 50:50,” he recorded, before commenting that, “Seven out of the last 10 Vintners’ Cup winners have been females.”

Giving the closing remarks was Nick Hyde, who is chairman of the board of trustees for the WSET.

He said that since the WSET was founded as many as 94 people have served as trustees, and, “they have been fundamental to the success of the trust”.

He then thanked Harris for his role in the development and internationalisation of the WSET since he took up the role of CEO in 2002.

Describing him as “the father of the modern WSET”, Harris was then treated to a standing ovation.

WSET International Development Manager, David Wrigley MW, chose the wines for the dinner, which were:

  • Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
  • Meursault-Charmes Premier Cru, Henri Germain, 2011
  • Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 2006
  • Château Suduiraut, 2006
  • Warre’s Vintage Port, 1985

In January, as the WSET began its 50th anniversary year, db brought together a panel of WSET Diploma graduates who have gone on to forge stellar careers to reflect on how studying for this qualification gave them a firm foundation in the wine trade.

You can read about their thoughts in the link below.

Read more


One Response to “WSET celebrates 50 years to the day with lavish dinner”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    I passed my Higher Certificate in 73 and Diploma in 75 but I never realised then just how new the WSET was. Much smaller and more amateurish in those days. Run by Major David Burroughs with Arthur Bone and Colin Gurteen in support out of small offices in Kennet Wharf Lane. A far cry of the size and reach of the WSET today but as they say ‘from small acorns mighty oak trees grow’!

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