Two scholarships worth £55,000 envisaged

Gerard Basset logo for JR.com

8 April 2021 A reminder that the deadline for applications for this exceptional offer is a week tomorrow, Friday 16 April. Taylor's Port is now sponsoring these scholarships, which will now be known as The Taylor's Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships.

9 March 2021 A new initiative is the most generous and ambitious scheme yet designed to improve diversity in the world of wine.

Yesterday applications opened for two scholarships, each worth up to £55,000 ($76,000 according to current exchange rates), offered to aspiring Black and minority ethnic students who wish to study for a Master of Wine or Master Sommelier qualification.

The Golden Vines Diversity Scholarship, Internship & Mentorship Programme is open to candidates anywhere in the world. The plan is that these scholarships will cover the entirety of their course and examination costs, as well as loss of earnings during their work placement internships. The internship programme has been designed to include a set of the most glamorous and diversified work experiences with the likes of Ch Cheval Blanc, Ch dYquem, Ch Smith Haut Lafitte, super-expensive bordeaux Liber Pater, Colgin Cellars, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, Dom Baron Thénard, Dom des Lambrays, Dom Laroche, Weingut Egon Müller, Heitz Cellar and Opus One as well as academic courses at UC Davis, the Kedge Wine School in Bordeaux and an OIV course.

I have been co-opted on to the judging panel for The Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships along with Nina, widow of the celebrated Gerard Basset, Raj Parr of Domaine de la Côte, Carlton McCoy MS, and Clement Robert MS of Annabels, Richard Caring’s London club at which a ritzy fundraising wine dinner is to be held on 7 October 2021.

The whole thing is the brainchild of Lewis Chester, an investment manager and WSET Diploma graduate who, with Gerard Basset, founded Liquid Icons, described as a ‘fine wine research and content production company’. Applications for the scholarships should be made to Liquid Icons in a process that has been devised in association with the Institute of Masters of Wine and the Court of Master Sommeliers (European Chapter). Closing date for applications is 16 April 2021.

The two winners of these Golden Vines scholarships and the winners of a set of awards for fine-wine producers will be announced at the Annabel’s dinner in October, at which an array of tip-top wines is to be served. DRC anyone? Funds are to be raised at this dinner and via a global online auction of, typically, large formats of fine wine from the worlds most lauded wine producers and money-cant-buy’ experiences at such estates, typically a tour, tasting, lunch or dinner with the owners and/or head winemaker and a stay at the estate where possible. Chester describes the Golden Vines Fine Wine & Experience Online Auction as an Aladdins cave of charity wine auctions’. The event will also feature a separate live auction held by Christies of non-wine-related auction lots, principally donated by sponsors and friends of the event and the initiative, which include cork producers Amorim who will be providing trophies for the award winners.

Chester expects that the Golden Vines event and the associated charity auctions will raise over £1 million for the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation, including the newly launched headline Golden Vines Diversity Scholarship, Internship & Mentorship Programme. Ian Harris, CEO of the WSET, and I are trustees of the Foundation, which is overseen by Nina Basset FIH and is dedicated to various ways of furthering wine education in Gerard’s memory.

The plan is to direct the vast proportion of money raised towards various wine education programmes specifically related to diversity and inclusion – from introductory level upwards – in collaboration with The Roots Fund, HUE Society, Wine Unify, Wine on Wheels and UC Davis School of Enology & Viticulture in the US; the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and BAME Wine Professionals in the UK; the University of Reims and the Kedge Wine School in France; The Africa Wine Club in West Africa; and the international wine organisation OIV.

Find out more here.