Over 500 wine and spirits influencers and professionals from across the world gathered at the historic Guildhall in London this week to celebrate the annual Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) awards and graduation.
Sixteen graduates from Australia were announced as achieving the WSET Diploma and will each be given one year of free Wine Communicators of Australia membership. Two further Australian WSET candidates, Samuel Winfield and Melissa Mills, were also honoured with awards for outstanding results.
Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive, 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 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.”
Samuel Winfield from North Fremantle, WA was named as 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. 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,” Winfield 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.”
The other Australian award winner was Melissa Mills from North Melbourne who was named as 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 now be invited to join the World’s elite Sake judges to judge Sake at the IWC in 2018.
Mills said: “My Sake journey started on a desperately cold, snowy day in January 2014 in a small 300-year-old brewery in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. 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.
“I am really hoping I can translate this experience to enhance the craft and culture of Sake and make it accessible for the ‘everyman’.”
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.
This year’s 16 graduates from Australia are:
- Nicole Bilson
- Georgia Colbert
- Michael Darby
- Jie Hu
- Tessa Jane Murray
- Julia Sewell
- Adeline Zimmermann
- Leone Becker
- Vicki Brewer
- Megan Cox
- Jodie Estens
- Lee Hayward
- Walter Henao
- Chris Horsley
- Alex Kirkwood
- Xavier Vigier