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Spanish Wine Master competition announces winner

Published:  05 July, 2023

Wine and Communications professional Kirsty Woodgate has been crowned 2023 Spanish Wine Master UK by Rioja winery Ramón Bilbao. 

The grand final of the inaugural competition took place on Monday (3 July) at London’s Four Season’s Hotel on Ten Trinity Square, whittling ten finalists down to six before announcing the ultimate winner. 

Presiding over proceedings was the panel of four judges: MWs Sarah Jane Evans and Pedro Ballesteros, Ramón Bilbao's chief winemaker & technical director Rodolfo Bastida, and the winery’s winemaker and innovation director Rosana Lisa.

The competition has its origins in Ramón Bilbao's Spanish Wine Academy, a digital platform launched in 2020 as part of the brand's project to educate consumers about the diversity of Spanish wines. Underpinned by the mantra  “the more you learn about something, the more you love it”, the Spanish Wine Academy gave rise to the Spanish Wine Master programme in 2023.

After almost 200 initial entries (and 1,500 across the participating four countries), the ten finalists had previously made it through a timed online qualifying quiz, plus an online semi-final. 

Monday’s event saw them work to correctly identify soils, analyse wines tasted blind and finally accurately give a technical description of a particular wine to the judges. 

Woodgate has won a bursary of £3,000 and the opportunity to produce wine with the team at Ramón Bilbao in Rioja. She will also be invited to take part in the global final against winners from other markets around the world, next year. 

Meanwhile, fellow wine communicator Anna Harris-Noble was awarded second place, winning a bursary of £1,000.

"Winning this award is very special. I am honoured to have won it against some very talented competitors, and it is a privilege to be acknowledged by such well respected judges. I am thrilled to have been given the title UK Spanish Wine Master 2023, and I can't wait to make my own wine with the experts at Ramon Bilbao,” said Woodgate.

This first edition of Spanish Wine Master is also taking place in three other countries where Ramón Bilbao has a presence, with a total of 1,503 contestants competing: Spain (which had its final on 26 June), Dominican Republic (5 July), and Colombia (18 July). 

In all countries, contestants are challenged in several competitive stages. The blind tasting tests have been designed by The Wine Studio, a wine education centre founded by Elisa Errea which pioneered WSET courses in Spain.