WSET Honors Graduates and Award Winners

LONDON, ENGLAND, January 24, 2017 – Over 500 wine and spirits influencers and professionals from across the world gathered at the historic Guildhall, City of London UK, to celebrate the annual Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Awards & Graduation where 53 graduates from the USA were announced as achieving the coveted WSET Diploma.

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 including Marius Berlemann, Laura Jewell, Richard Paterson and Jancis Robinson. Of the year’s 440 WSET Diploma graduates 53 were from the USA, and their achievements were celebrated as some of only 9,000 people in the world to have ever held the accolade. Graduates and award winners hailed from the UK and USA to China and Japan, representing the global reach and relevance of WSET qualifications.

The WSET Level 4 Diploma is WSET’s highest qualification and recognized globally as one of the most distinguished achievements in the sector. The course develops an in-depth knowledge of production, regions and styles, and the global trade of wines and spirits. The Diploma is also universally viewed as the stepping stone to the Master of Wine. Upon successful completion graduates receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin, and are able to use the post-nominal DipWSET and associated WSET certified logo.

Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive, said, “Knowledgeable professionals and consumers are proving increasingly important for the future success of the wine and spirits industry. Thanks to the hard work of our educators, Approved Program 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. Our graduates and award winners come from all walks of life, both within the drinks trade and outside, and we’re proud to honor their achievements. We hope they will inspire others across the world to develop their education.”

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Award Winners from the USA

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. Brian, 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.
Brian says, “As someone who has always loved wine but never taken the time to pursue formal training, WSET offered an exceptional and affordable formal education to learn from experts in the field. I loved that the instructors are as passionate about wine as they are education. I am overjoyed with winning The Laithwaite’s USA Prize. I took a huge risk to shift careers and pursue my passion for wine. Not only is this an honor, but it confirms that I am on the right path towards pursuing wine excellence.”
Rodney Willis Jr from Houston, TX is the winner of the Wine Australia USA & Canada prize as a student working in the wine & spirit trade who achieved outstanding results in his WSET Level 3 Award in Wines. Rodney, 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.

Rodney says, “Wine education is just like the treasures of a bottle, continually evolving and rewarding you with the proper care and attention put into your commitment to them. WSET courses are held to the same merit internationally with a definitive course load and collection of resources. As an award winner for the Wine Australia scholarship, I feel truly blessed to be offered an opportunity to travel alongside likeminded individuals to one of the great regions of the world. It is a dream come true through perseverance and commitment to education thanks to the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.”

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Stephanie Bruno Herndon from Austin, TX is the winner of the RNDC Prize as a student from the USA wine & spirit trade who achieved outstanding results across their WSET Diploma. Stephanie, 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.

Stephanie says, “WSET inspires learning through a structured approach to wine education which really resonated with me – the courses seemed like a natural way for me to spend more time exploring my passion while also advancing my wine knowledge. I am thrilled and honored to receive Republic National Distributing Company’s study trip and work experience prize, and I look forward to using this unique experience to further my wine knowledge and help educate others.”

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, Moritz now lives in the UK and studied his WSET Diploma at WSET School London alongside his high-flying 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 honor 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, 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 instigated several social projects across South America.
See the full list of graduates and award winners in our 2018 Yearbook on the dedicated microsite here

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To learn more about WSET courses and find a local Approved Program Provider visit the website at

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WSET Media Contact:
Stephanie Mutsaers Victoria Domenico
WSET Wagstaff Worldwide
0207 089 3873 646.585.4320

About the Wine & Spirit Education Trust

WSET is the largest global provider of qualifications in the field of wines and spirits. WSET qualifications are regulated by the UK Government and have a strong reputation worldwide. In the last academic year (2016/17) 85,487 candidates sat for a WSET qualification.

Courses are available in 19 languages and over 70 countries, and are open both to industry professionals and interested enthusiasts. Since 1969 more than half a million individuals have completed a WSET qualification. We currently offer nine qualifications, from one-day beginner courses through to a specialist level diploma.

For more information about WSET, please visit the new fully responsive website:

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