Last night the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) staged its annual Graduation & Awards Ceremony at the Guildhall in the City of London.
Having held a virtual ceremony in 2021, this year WSET returned to the Guildhall with a hybrid event. It was WSET’s most inclusive graduation ceremony to date with 70% of the year’s graduates from around the globe attending either virtually or in person.
665 new WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines graduates were honoured at the ceremony – the highest number of annual graduates ever, bringing the total number of WSET Diploma graduates globally to over 11,500. Graduates attended from 31 different course providers across 17 countries worldwide. The ceremony was hosted by WSET Chief Executive Ian Harris in his final week in the role. He was joined by Honorary President Paul Symington and Regional Directors Jude Mullins, Dave Rudman and Rachel Webster.
Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive, said, “I am so pleased that, in my final year as WSET CEO, we are celebrating our largest ever number of WSET Diploma graduates. I am also happy that this was our most inclusive ceremony ever, giving graduates the opportunity to attend either in person or virtually. We had graduates taking part from every country where our WSET Diploma is taught.
Ian Harris, MBE DipWSET, WSET Chief Executive and Simon McMurtrie, currently serving as WSET's Chair of the Board of Trustees.
I would like to personally congratulate all our scholarship and award winners who achieved outstanding results in their exams last year - they each have a powerful story to tell about their achievement. This year we updated our award structure to reflect the global nature of our student base. We have award winners from 13 different countries and 31 course providers. As I prepare to leave WSET and hand over to Michelle Brampton, I am humbled by the ever-extending reach of WSET’s qualifications and their power to transform careers and lives.”
Following the graduate procession, outstanding candidates for the 2020/21 academic year were presented with awards and scholarships in recognition of their achievements. The flagship award winners were:
Jorge André Pais Vaz Nunes from Portugal is the winner of this year’s Vintners’ Cup. He achieved the highest overall mark globally across all units of the WSET Diploma in the 2020/21 academic year. Jorge completed his WSET Diploma at AWSEC Hong Kong and works for Symington Family Estates, Hong Kong as Asia Pacific Market Manager.
Jorge André Pais Vaz Nunes, Portugal, Vintners’ Cup Winner 2022
Jorge commented, “I feel incredibly honoured to receive this award. The WSET Diploma is not easy and, although I worked hard, I was not expecting to win such a prestigious prize. I feel deeply thankful to WSET, AWSEC Hong Kong, my study group, and my wife who helped me with pre-dinner blind tastings.”
This year regional scholarships were also awarded to the top-performing WSET Diploma students in each of WSET’s key business regions:
- Napa Valley Asia Pacific Scholarship: Jiaying Deng who studied with ASC Fine Wines, China
- Decanter Americas Scholarship: Kristie Boschman who studied with Fine Vintage, Canada
- IWSC EMEA Scholarship: Iulia Scavo who studied with Esprits-de-Vins, France
- Vintners’ UK Scholarship: Natalia Pezzone who studied with WSET School London, UK
Outstanding Alumni Award
The WSET Outstanding Alumni Award, sponsored by JancisRobinson.com, celebrates and nurtures a WSET Diploma graduate who is making a notable contribution to the industry. The nominees are chosen by the WSET International Alumni Advisory Board and Diploma graduates across WSET’s global network vote for their winner. This year’s winner is Ferdinand Mayr from Austria. Ferdinand is a winemaker and lecturer at the Austrian Wine Academy.
Ferdinand commented, “It is a very special honour and a surprise for a small winemaker like me to receive this award from WSET. This high-quality international education completely changed my life and led me to become a winemaker and a lecturer at the Austrian Wine Academy. To this day, education and training are an essential part of my winemaking life - especially when it comes to assessing wine quality and styles.”