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Outgoing WSET CEO Ian Harris bids farewell at annual graduation and awards ceremony

Published:  12 April, 2022

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, WSET returned to the Guildhall with a hybrid event this year. 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.

A total of 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 graduates globally to over 11,500.

WSET CEO Ian Harris hosted the ceremony 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 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, allowing graduates to attend either in person or virtually. We had graduates taking part from every country where our WSET Diploma is taught.

“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 the 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 to recognise their achievements. The flagship award winners were:

Vintners’ Cup

Jorge André Pais Vaz Nunes from Portugal won 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. Nunes completed his WSET Diploma at AWSEC Hong Kong and worked for Symington Family Estates, Hong Kong, as Asia Pacific market manager. Nunes 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.”

Regional Scholarships

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: Natalie Pezzone, who studied with WSET School London, UK

Outstanding Alumni Award

The WSET Outstanding Alumni Award, sponsored by, 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 said, “It is a 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. Education and training are an essential part of my winemaking life - especially when it comes to assessing wine quality and styles.”