The WSET has won this award by ‘demonstrating consistent growth and sustained success in reaching international markets’. Essentially, it is for teaching the world about wine.
The trust is a world leader in wine and spirit education. In the last academic year 56,215 people worldwide sat for a WSET qualification. The courses are available in 18 languages, across more than 60 countries, and in the past decade the proportion of candidates taking their qualifications outside the UK has grown from 37% to over 75%. Over the same period, annual candidate numbers have more than quadrupled.
Founded in 1969 to meet the training needs of the UK trade, perhaps the most satisfying for a British business operating in the wine sector though, is the growth in student numbers from some of the world’s most well-established wine producing and exporting countries, including France and Australia who sit firmly within WSET’s top 10 markets. WSET candidate numbers in France have quadrupled since 2008, while Australia delivered an eightfold increase over the same period. As well as growth in traditional wine producing markets, greater China is fast on the heels of the UK to become WSET’s number one market.
WSET qualifications are delivered through a network of more than 600 approved course providers worldwide. This international expansion has been led from its London headquarters by WSET’s chief executive, Ian Harris. With a successful career in sales and marketing within the wine and spirit industry prior to joining WSET in 2002, HNarris sees WSET’s success as a reflection of the industry’s continued recognition of the UK as a hub for the global wine and spirits trade.
Harris said: “As a country with a historically low domestic production, the UK has always been one of the world’s largest importers of wine. This exposure to different styles and grape varieties has given the British a rich understanding of wines and spirits from all over the world – making us well placed to be world leaders in the industry’s education.
“Originally founded as an organisation for training the UK trade, the team at WSET has worked tirelessly to expand its influence overseas and now attracts the interest of keen amateurs as well as seasoned professionals across the globe. It is fantastic to have our efforts acknowledged by HM The Queen,” he said.
Harris and WSET’s trustees' chairman, James Simpson MW, will attend a reception at Buckingham Palace on July 14 to celebrate WSET’s win alongside representatives from other companies who have won Queen’s Awards this year.