The Outstanding Alumni Award is an annual accolade that recognises a WSET Diploma graduate who is notably contributing to the industry. It is presented in partnership with JancisRobinson.com.

Nominees were chosen by the WSET International Alumni Advisory Board. WSET Diploma graduates from across the world were then able to vote for the winner. 2016 marked the first year that this award was bestowed, the inaugural recipient was Isabelle Legeron.

2018 Winner

Caro Maurer MW, DipWSET
Germany

Caro started her career as a correspondent in New York and Los Angeles before moving back to Germany to become lifestyle editor for the German edition of Forbes magazine and later, national newspaper Die Welt. In the early 1990s she went freelance and now specialises in food and wine articles for local and national titles. She completed the WSET Diploma in 2005, as Germany’s top graduate, and went on to become a Master of Wine in 2011. When not writing, she teaches the WSET Diploma, hosts educational tastings for international wine associations and consults for Edeka, Germany’s biggest supermarket chain.

2019 Nominees


Ferran Centelles

Spain

Ferran is the Spanish wine specialist for jancisrobinson.com. He was a sommelier at the world-renowned elBulli restaurant from 2000 to 2011. When elBulli became the elBullifoundation, Ferran was made drinks director and today leads the Sapiens del Vino project, an innovative wine encyclopaedia focused on gastronomy. He is also deputy manager and educator at Outlook Wine in Barcelona. Ferran was named Best Sommelier in Spain in 2006 and was awarded the National Gastronomy Award in 2011. He completed his WSET Diploma in 2012 and published his first book about food and wine pairing called ¿Qué vino con este pato? in 2016. Ferran is also joint regional chair for Spain at Decanter World Wine Awards.

 

“I am really honoured to be nominated. To me WSET represents rigour, deep knowledge and precise content but also an engaging way of learning. I am totally grateful to this institution, as they completely changed my approach to wine in the best sense.”


Liwen Hao

China

Based in Shanghai, Liwen was the first Chinese wine critic to join Robert Parker’s team. As well as working as the team’s Asian wine and sake reviewer for the past four years, he has also written for a variety of other titles about wines in China and sake in Japan. Previously editor-in-chief of Wine Press Magazine, Liwen is one of the best-known wine writers and influencers in China and has published three books about wine and sake. He also runs Happy Vino Wine Education which is a WSET Approved Programme Provider. He achieved his WSET Diploma in 2012.

 

“I have a great interest in writing and teaching about wine and sake and I really enjoy sharing my passion and knowledge with people. Whenever people hear me talk about wine and sake or read my articles – as well as when we share these great drinks together – I hope it wins them even more new fans.”


DJ Kearney

Canada

DJ Kearney’s decades in the wine industry have embraced teaching, wine writing & criticism, judging and speaking.  DJ was a WSET Diploma graduate in 2002, holds the ISG Sommelier Certification and has spent four years in the MW programme. She is a WSET educator working for many global wine bodies, and has trained hundreds of sommelier candidates throughout North America for the International Sommelier Guild. DJ is Vice-President of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, BC Chapter. She heads the WSET program at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and has started a judge training program in Canada to help prepare the next generation of wine judges. DJ was honoured by her colleagues as the Spirited Industry Professional of 2019.

 

“I am extremely honoured and gratified to be nominated for the WSET Outstanding Alumni Award 2019.  I began my WSET studies almost two decades ago, and have had the privilege of teaching this exemplary programme for many years. Through this opportunity I discovered a true vocation and love for education, and have shared the joy of wine with all students who pass through my classroom.”


Regine Lee MW

UK

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area but now UK-based, Regine’s love of wine developed after countless day trips to Napa and culminated in becoming an MW in 2018. After a career in management consulting, she made a switch to the wine industry ten years ago. She has worked at WSET to expand wine education in Asia-Pacific and in various sales, operations, trade marketing and education roles at Liberty Wines. Regine has also gained winemaking experience at Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She completed her WSET Diploma in 2013. Passionate about gender equality in the workplace, she co-founded Women in Wine London, a trade networking group that is currently 600 people strong.

 

“Ten years ago when I joined the wine trade, I promised myself to work hard, be bold, take risks and make the most of being in this fantastic industry. I’m absolutely thrilled to be nominated for WSET’s Outstanding Alumni Award and humbled by the recognition.”


Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW

USA

An MW and wine educator with as much expertise in spirits, Jennifer completed her WSET Diploma in 2002. She has trained thousands of drinks industry professionals and is now encouraging education amongst enthusiasts through her books and courses. She judges in wine and spirit competitions and has been honoured with an international tasting trophy for her palate. She is one of the US trade media’s most popular experts on wine and spirits. She is also a board member for the American Friends of Cité du Vin in Bordeaux and a partner in the technology firm Wine Ring.

 

“WSET is an outstanding educational institution and I am proud to point wine enthusiasts and students their way.  Their integrity, rigor, growth and reach since I received my Diploma in 2002 has been remarkable and a pleasure to watch.  It is truly an honor just to be nominated.”


Previous Winners

2018 Caro Maurer MW, DipWSET

2017 Sarah Jane Evans MW, DipWSET

2016 Isabelle Legeron MW, DipWSET

Other Awards

Prizes

View the year’s outstanding students across levels 2 to 4.

Vintners’ Cup

The graduate achieving the highest aggregate mark across all units of the WSET Diploma.

WSET Educator of the Year

Recognising the outstanding contribution of an individual or company within our network of Approved Programme Providers.