WSET celebrates 50 years

07 January, 2019
WSET 50th anniversary

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is celebrating its 50th anniversary providing wine and spirits education to the industry.

Now the world’s largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications for both professionals and enthusiasts, WSET will be celebrating this landmark anniversary with a full schedule of activity throughout the year.

WSET chief executive Ian Harris, said: “Although it was a small organisation in 1969, WSET always had ambitions to educate all those employed in the UK wine and spirits trade at the time. Since then, WSET has grown to become the world’s largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications. 

“Twenty nineteen marks a momentous year for WSET and we are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the occasion. We will be bringing together our network of qualification holders and educators worldwide to look back on all that we have achieved, and more importantly, inspire a future generation of better educated wine and spirits professionals and enthusiasts who will make this industry thrive for another 50 years and beyond.” 


1969: The Vintners’ Company, Wine and Spirit Association of Great Britain (now WSTA), Institute of Masters of Wine and Worshipful Company of Distillers found WSET as a charitable trust to serve the growing educational needs of the UK wine and spirits industry. Three qualifications were offered for trade professionals, all delivered in London: the WSET Certificate in Wines, Spirits and Other Alcoholic Beverages, the Higher Certificate in Wines and Spirits and the Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Candidate numbers reached approximately 2,000 per year. 

1977: WSET expanded access to qualifications abroad by launching courses in the Republic of Ireland and Ontario, Canada with the International Wine Education Guild (IWEG). 

1991: WSET courses are opened to students who do not work in the wine and spirits trade. The same year, WSET courses also launched in France and by the end of the 1990s WSET qualifications were available in the UK, Europe, the USA, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. 

2001: WSET became accredited as an Awarding Body with qualifications recognised by the UK government. 

2002: Ian Harris joined WSET from Seagram as Chief Executive. 

2004: WSET started what is now the WSET Alumni network for its Diploma graduates across the world. 

2007: International students taking WSET exams outnumbered UK students for the first time. 

2015: WSET won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 

2016: WSET opened its first international office in Hong Kong, WSET Asia Pacific, to serve its growing Asian markets. 

2018: WSET introduced the first dedicated on-territory WSET team in the USA with an office based in Connecticut. WSET candidate numbers also reached an all-time high of 94,822 for the 2017/2018 academic year. 

2019: By the end of this year, WSET will have nine qualifications at beginner to expert levels in the three distinct subject matter categories of wine, spirits and sake, offered through a network of over 750 Approved Programme Providers in more than 75 countries and 15 languages. 

Keywords: WSET

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.