Main image

Ian Harris receives prestigious Vinitaly International Award at wine2wine Business Forum 2020

Main image

On Monday November 23, Ian Harris, WSET CEO, was presented with the prestigious Vinitaly International Award by Gianni Bruno, Exhibition Manager of Veronafiere, and Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International. He received the award at the end of his virtual session on the theme of The Future of Wine Education.

Since 1996, the International Vinitaly Award has been awarded to illustrious personalities from the world of wine and winemaking who are particularly respected for their work in an international context. This year the award was presented to Ian Harris in recognition of how, under his leadership, WSET has grown to offer courses in more than 70 countries in 15 languages, and how he has led the charitable trust to evolve and adapt to an ever-changing market. Stevie Kim comments, “It can be argued that no one else has done as much to modernise and promote wine and spirits education around the world. Ian’s vision is matched only by his passion, making him an ideal candidate for the 2020 edition of the award. It is not only that Ian champions education, it is the way he communicates its power for the industry, demonstrating that investing in education is not only good for its own sake, but improves your business and makes you more competitive in both a local and global market.” Past winners of the award include Livio Felluga Srl (2015), Weingut Bruendlmayer, Steven Spurrier (2017), and also Demei Li and Leon Liang from China (2019).

Ian’s session at wine2wine addressed three questions:

  • How has the delivery of wine education changed over the years?
  • What impact have the last six months had on shaping the future of wine education?
  • Why is wine education more important than ever?

He showed the audience how, following a sharp drop due to COVID-19, WSET managed to recover student numbers by moving towards a digital end-to-end offering. It is this practical, market-led approach that helped influence Vinitaly International when selecting Harris for this year’s award.

wine2wine is an international wine industry forum organized by Veronafiere and held annually in Verona, Italy - although this year the event is 100% digital for the first time. WSET is wine2wine’s education partner for the event. From 23-24 November, there are over 50 online sessions with more than 70 international speakers coming together to talk about the business of wine. The focus of this year’s event will be the inclusion and role of women in the world of wine. In addition, this year wine2wine has lined-up speakers from diverse cultural backgrounds and broadened the discussion to markets that rarely see inclusion in prestigious wine events. Among the experts who will be on the forum’s virtual stage for the first time are: Rania Zayyat, founder of Wonder Women of Wine; Jermaine Stone, founder and CEO of Cru Luv Wine; and Kodjo Adovor, founder and sommelier of the Africa Wine Club as well as wine writers Julia Coney and Elaine Chukan Brown. WSET Alumni and Masters of Wine, Jeannie Cho Lee MW and Sarah Heller MW will also be participating. You can see the full programme here.

Click here to see a recap of day one.