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 and Jancis Robinson OBE MW. 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.

2017 Winner

Sarah Jane Evans MW, DipWSET
UK

Evans is an award-winning writer and Co-Chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards who achieved her WSET Diploma in 1998. Beginning her career in book publishing, she spent a decade as Associate Editor of BBC Good Food magazine. During that time she was President of the Guild of Food Writers and completed the WSET Diploma, winning the Freixenet Scholarship. She became an MW in 2006 and won the Robert Mondavi Winery Award for the best results in the theory papers. She was Chairman of the IMW (2014-16). Spain and Sherry remain special interests; she’s a member of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, has received a number of awards in Spain, and is finishing a book on the Wines of Rioja and Northern Spain.

2018 Nominees


Nova Cadamatre MW, DipWSET
USA

Nova is a graduate of Cornell University’s Viticulture program and, after achieving her WSET Diploma in 2010, became the first female winemaker in the USA to be named a Master of Wine in 2017. Having made award-winning wines in Finger Lakes, including under her own brand Trestle Thirty One, she is now Senior Director of Winemaking for Constellation Brands, Napa, leading the teams for Robert Mondavi, The Prisoner, Mount Veeder, Schrader and Franciscan. Named in Wine Enthusiast’s 2014 Top 40 Under 40 and a silver medalist in the Ningxia Winemaker Challenge 2017, she is also a writer and senior instructor at WSET Approved Programme Providers, Napa Valley Wine Academy and Grape Experience.


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.


Rhys Pender MW, DipWSET
Australia/Canada

Having worked in the wine industry since he was a teenager, Rhys has built his career across a wide range of roles from educator, judge and writer to grape grower. He achieved his WSET Diploma in 2002, holds a Professional Culinary Diploma, and in 2010 became Canada’s youngest Master of Wine. Originally from Australia, he now owns a 4-acre vineyard, Little Farm Winery in BC, Canada, and teaches WSET courses through his school, Wine Plus+. He judges at international wine competitions and contributes to Canadian wine publications, and was also named in Western Living magazine’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40.


Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, DipWSET
UK

Born in Britain of Italian parents, Pierpaolo followed his father into the wine industry in 1983 and worked his way up through sales and buying roles for Carnevale Group, International Wine Services, WaverleyTBS and Tesco. Graduating the WSET Diploma with honours in 1999, he went on to become the first Italian Master of Wine in 2007, and has been Head of Buying for Beers, Wines and Spirits at Waitrose since 2010. He was Chairman of the Italian Wines Committee of Wine & Spirit Association for seven years and has been consistently listed in Drinks Retailing News’ Top 100 Most Influential People in Wine, placing first in 2018.


Fongyee Walker MW, DipWSET
China

Having led the Cambridge University Blind Wine Tasting team to victory in 2004, Fongyee moved to Beijing to co-found WSET APP Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting with Edward Ragg. Achieving her WSET Diploma in 2008, she is now a specialist wine educator and consultant in English and Mandarin and provides the only taught WSET Diploma course in mainland China. She became the first professional in mainland China to gain the Master of Wine in 2016 and regularly judges Chinese and international wine shows, writes articles, consults for the Chinese industry, and is the host of WoknWine, a bilingual show about travel, food and wine with over 4 million views.


Previous Winners

2017 Sarah Jane Evans MW, DipWSET

2016 Isabelle Legeron MW, DipWSET

Other Awards

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.