WSET Honors U.S. Graduates and Award Winners

More than 500 wine and spirits influencers and professionals from across the world gathered last Monday at the Guildhall in London to celebrate the annual Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) awards and graduation. Fifty-three graduates from the U.S. received a WSET diploma.

Three WSET candidates from the U.S. also received awards for outstanding results.

Hosted for the first time by new WSET Honorary President, Steven Spurrier, alongside WSET Chief Executive Ian Harris, the occasion attracted attendance from industry leaders and long-standing WSET supporters. These included Marius Berlemann, Laura Jewell, Richard Paterson and Jancis Robinson.

The WSET Level 4 Diploma is WSET’s highest qualification and is recognized globally. The course develops a knowledge of production, regions and styles, and the global trade of wines and spirits. The diploma is also viewed as the stepping stone to the Master of Wine.

“Knowledgeable professionals and consumers are proving increasingly important for the future success of the wine and spirits industry,” says Harris. “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.”

Award sponsor representative Dave Rudman, Stephanie Bruno Herndon, and WSET Honorary President Steven Spurrier | Photo by Ede and Ravenscroft

Award Highlights

As the student who achieved the highest overall mark across the WSET Diploma in his year, Moritz Mueller was the winner of this year’s Vintners’ Cup and Scholarship. Originally from Germany, Mueller now lives in the UK and studied his WSET diploma at WSET School London alongside his job in the world of finance. He is one of the rare individuals outside of the wine and spirits trade to have won the accolade since WSET started offering courses to consumers in 1991.

Another honour presented on the night is the Riedel Trophy for the WSET Educator of the Year, awarded to the individual or company that has made a significant contribution to the delivery of WSET courses and qualifications. This year’s winner was Eno Cultura, of Brazil. Thiago Mendes and Paulo Brammer set up Eno Cultura in Säo Paulo in 2013 and now run courses across the country. Impressive growth has been matched with excellent exam results and their introduction of scholarships has enabled more members of the trade to access WSET courses. They have also been behind several social projects across South America.

Award Winners from the U.S.

Brian McCann from Chicago, IL is the winner of The Laithwaite’s USA Prize for achieving an outstanding result in his WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits. McCann, who studied his WSET award at American Wine School, is Founder of Wine Blueprint, an online platform helping to answer consumers’ wine questions. He will receive funds from Laithwaite’s to study a wine or spirit producing region of his choice.

Rodney Willis Jr from Houston, TX is the winner of the Wine Australia USA & Canada prize as a student working in the wine and spirit trade who achieved outstanding results in his WSET Level 3 Award in Wines. Willis, who studied his WSET award at RNDC, is Fine Wine Specialist (Platinum division) at RNDC. He will receive a trip to study a wine producing region in Australia.

Andreas Clark and Laura Jewell of Wine Australia, with Rodney Willis Jr., and WSET Honorary President Steven Spurrier. | Photo by Ede and Ravenscroft

Stephanie Bruno Herndon from Austin, TX is the winner of the RNDC Prize as a student from the U.S. wine and spirit trade who achieved outstanding results across their WSET Diploma. Bruno, who studied her Diploma at Grape Experience is co-founder and co-owner at Dash Events. Stephanie receives a study trip and work experience with RNDC.

See the full list of graduates and award winners in the 2018 WSET Yearbook here.

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