Two plus 10 scholarships announced

Mags Janjo, winner of the Golden Vines Master of Wine Scholarship 2021

Twelve new scholarships designed to broaden the ethnic mix of those engaged successfully in the wine world are announced, along with their winners.

Just over a month ago, together with Gerard Basset’s widow Nina, Raj Parr of Sandhi Wines and Domaine de la Côte in southern California, Carlton McCoy MS of Lawrence Wine Estates in Napa Valley and Clement Robert MS of The Birley Clubs in London, I had the pleasure of judging the awards mentioned here. I must confess that initially I suspected it might be rather hard work, but in the event reading the 42 extremely varied applications for these generous scholarships from all over the world, turned out to be both heartening and inspiring. It was thoroughly uplifting to read the tales of how a love of wine, and hard work of course, has shaped lives, often in difficult or unexpected circumstances. Tomorrow we begin a series highlighting some of the candidates personal stories.

The two winners of the original Taylor’s Port Golden Vines™ Diversity Scholarships, worth £55,000 each, will be announced in October at The Golden Vines Awards Ceremony and Dinner at Annabel’s in London. But this project, the brainchild of Lewis Chester DipWSET of Liquid Icons, the fine-wine research and content production company with which Gerard Basset was also involved, has spawned further awards.

During our online judging sessions and interviews of shortlisted candidates, it became clear that more than two of the applicants deserved some help. We judges were thrilled when a call to Lewis Chester at the end of our final judging session elicited two new awards of £12,500 each, to cover the full costs of tuition, examination and tastings for one Master of Wine student and one Master Sommelier student. These awards are to be made in the name of The Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation (of which Lewis, Nina, Ian Harris MBE of the WSET and I are trustees). Funds for these scholarships, like those for the two main awards, are to be raised via the October awards ceremony and dinner.

The winner of The Golden Vines Master of Wine Scholarship that will pay for his MW studies is Mags Janjo DipWSET (pictured above), the British founder of M J Wine Cellars and BAME Wine Professionals. Before this he was senior account manager at Roberson Wine in London. In 2016 he completed the WSET Diploma with Merit and is now a WSET educator. M J Wine Cellars focuses both on creating brands for UK retailers, and on importing niche, small-batch, hand-crafted wines. Because I knew Mags personally already, I let my fellow judges assess him without comment from me. They were unanimously impressed by his drive, determination to fill the gaps in his knowledge, and by what he has achieved to date, both as an educator and someone determined to enrich the ethnic mix of those involved in wine and hospitality.

Mags (who is also incidentally shortlisted for a Vintners Company Outstanding Young Person award) commented after being told of this award, ‘I am delighted and honoured to be awarded this prestigious and highly sought-after award. Having spoken with fellow applicants, I am certain that all would have been worthy recipients of the Golden Vines Masters of Wine Scholarship. I am under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead and look forward to repaying the confidence of the judges and The Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation through hard work and dedication.’

The winner of The Golden Vines Master Sommelier Scholarship is Winnie Toh, an Asian holder of an Advanced Sommelier Certificate from The Court of Master Sommeliers Europe who will now be able to tackle the full MS course knowing that all of her fees will be covered. Tomorrow we will publish her (truly global) story.

Nina Basset FIH commented, ‘We are delighted to be able to offer these two additional scholarships to such talented, deserving members of the BAME/BIPOC community so that they can reach their full potential in the wine industry and act as role models to encourage other members from these communities to consider a career in wine. We look forward to seeing them succeed at the highest level of our industry.’

In addition to these two new, supplementary scholarships, the Wine Scholar Guild had offered 10 Golden Vines Wine Scholar Guild Scholarships whose winners may enrol free in one of the Wine Scholar Guilds advanced French, Spanish or Italian Wine Scholar Certification Programmes.

The 10 winners of these 2021 Golden Vines Wine Scholar Guild Scholarships with their qualifications are:

  • Nikan Jooyani, an Iranian living in Italy (FISAR Certificate)
  • Shalva Khetsuriani, from Georgia
  • Arlene King, a Jamaican living in the UK (WSET Level 2 Certificate in Wines and Spirits)
  • Olufikayo Ifaturoti, a Nigerian living in the UK (WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits)
  • Oscar Marulanda from Colombia (WSET Level 3 Award in Wines)
  • Alec Merkt-Caprile (DipWSET) from Canada describes himself as ‘a mutt’
  • Emma Ogiemwanye, a West African living in the USA
  • Tanmay Rathod from India (Certified Specialist of Wine from Society of Wine Educators)
  • Jai Singh, an Indian living in Italy (WSET Level 2 Award in Wines holder and Level 3 student)
  • Aki Sudo from Japan (ASI International Diploma)

We will be publishing the stories of some of these winners, as well as of some of the other applicants for the Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships, over the coming weeks.

Lewis Chester DipWSET commented, ‘We are delighted that the Wine Scholar Guild have decided to offer these most generous scholarships to BAME/BIPOC wine students chosen by our incredible panel of judges. Our aim is to make the world of wine more diverse and inclusive, and to do this, we need to find and promote a new generation of role models who can attract students from these communities globally to the wine industry. These new scholarships will certainly help in achieving that objective.