2022 Golden Vines Diversity Awards applicants – UK

Mia Kodilinye Golden Vines Photo

This is the first of four articles about some of the 47 applicants for this year's Golden Vines Diversity Awards, awards that are designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the wine, spirits and hospitality businesses as a tribute to the memory of the late Gérard Basset. We have grouped applicants by their current geographical location. Europe, North America, and the rest of the world will follow.

As I observed when reporting on the first tranche of winners in this year’s awards, there were so many strong candidates that we judges felt we should have given a scholarship of some sort to virtually all applicants. Reading these profiles of some of them, I am pretty certain you will agree. As a trustee of the Gérard Basset Foundation, I found it extremely difficult to decide who should be rewarded with funds to continue their wine education. The three winners of the most valuable scholarships, the Taylor's Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships, each worth about £55,000, as well as other valuable grants made by the Foundation, will be announced on Monday 19 September and celebrated at a gala fundraising event in Florence in mid October.

Mia Kodilinye, pictured above, is British, of Trinidadian-Indian heritage on her mother’s side, and of Anglo-Nigerian heritage on her father’s side. Born in the UK, she grew up in Barbados and now works full-time as a lawyer in London, having excelled academically at school. She has passed WSET Level 3 and was applying for a grant to study for either the WSET Diploma or Wine Scholar Guild Champagne Master qualification in her spare time. (We awarded her the latter.)

She can’t have that much spare time, however, since in 2020 she founded Bubble and Wine, a wine consulting and events venture which hopes ‘to develop the nascent market of wine consumers of colour’. At these events she pairs Indian, Caribbean and Nigerian dishes with wine, and seeks to dispel many of the more intimidating myths about the subject. One of the ways in which Mia aims to make wine more accessible is by showcasing user-friendly if unconventional wine pairings such as New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Cardi B’s music! As well as this she wrote in her application, ‘I help time-poor professionals to manage their cellars and wine newbies from non-traditional backgrounds to construct new ones’. She aims to tackle structural obstacles, such as using Bubble and Wine to gain allocations of wines on behalf of her clients who would otherwise not have access to them.

She says her mixed heritage and experiences growing up in Barbados have made her feel like a citizen of the world, and she has found that ‘fitting in nowhere forced me to learn to fit in everywhere – including in the wine world’.

Luma Monteiro

Luma Monteiro, pictured above, is a Black woman from Brazil, now resident in the UK and currently, after jobs in many facets of the wine world, working for Davy’s Wine Merchants as an all-round marketing executive. She also runs one of the UK’s more popular wine content accounts on Instagram (@wineriaoffical) with the aim of ‘making wine accessible to a diverse audience’. Luma says she has been inspired by various prominent women in wine but has found that as a Black, Latin American woman, she has faced additional barriers and hurdles. Through acting as a wine judge and speaking at events organised by groups such as Be Inclusive Hospitality, she hopes to become the Black, Latin American female role model in wine for others like her that she lacked when she first entered the trade.

She wrote about her current WSET studies, ‘Since I’ve started Level 4, I have been sharing my study routine via posts, daily stories and videos. It grabbed WSET’s attention who shared my videos about my study techniques and they have more than 59,000 views. I receive numerous messages from people all over the world telling me their stories and how they felt motivated and inspired to start their wine courses and the journey of learning more about wine.’

She was awarded a Wine Scholar Guild scholarship this year.

Florencia Gomez

Florencia Gomez, pictured above, is also a UK-based Latina, Argentinian in this case. She is already studying to become a Master of Wine and comes highly recommended by her mentor Caro Maurer MW, who noted that Florencia has notched up ‘six years [in wine] and nine vintages of winemaking experience in Napa, Mendoza, Burgundy and Croatia. Working in multidisciplinary teams, in different languages and cross-cultural environments, she showed the eagerness to learn and the flexibility to adapt to multiple challenges to thrive in diverse contexts.’

She was export manager for Grupo Peñaflor in Argentina and was inspired to become an MW while touring Argentine vineyards with female Swedish Master of Wine Madeleine Stenwreth. At the beginning of 2020, she moved to London with the ultimate dream of becoming the first Argentine female winemaker Master of Wine. (So far, Marina Gayan is the only Argentine MW.) She observed in her application, ‘coming from Argentina, a country with nearly zero wine imports, constant economic instability and rampant inflation rates, the road to the Stage 2 exam has been anything but easy (particularly considering I arrived in London just a week before the COVID-19 pandemic hit).’

But the wine world’s move online during lockdowns only strengthened the possibilities of her freelance work since 2019: ‘creating content, developing marketing strategies and providing brand ambassadorship services to multiple clients around the world’.

Florencia clearly does not lack determination.


Sanya Abhay, pictured above, is the extremely hard-working son of Laotian refugees in the UK. He is currently enrolled as both an MS and MW student and is doing well according to his mentor William Lowe MW, who wrote in his letter of recommendation of Sanya that he had ‘volunteered in a charity focused on connecting with and integrating asylum seekers in the UK. Having to study simultaneously for the MS and MW is testament to his thirst for knowledge and competitive spirit.’

For good measure, Sanya has a full-time job as wine buyer for Cru Wine. He wrote in his application:

‘I strongly identify as BAME as I am an ethnic minority and feel it is important to represent this community in order to achieve proportionate representation within the industry. My competitive mentality is deeply rooted in my upbringing. My father was a refugee who fled his war-torn Laos in fear for his life. Living as a minority and in cultural isolation has shaped my family’s outlook. Growing up in a largely monocultural city in the east of England, my father reinforced the need for me to excel and create a positive image for the BAME community.

‘Ultimately, passing both the MW and MS exams will provide me with the expertise and global platform to reach a greater number of the BAME community and encourage them to join the industry.’