The diversity scholarship that’s changing the face of wine

The most ambitious drinks Diversity Scholarship programme goes live today, with the intention of changing – quite literally – the face of the wine world.

The Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships Programme is being organised by the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation. It aims to fund two BAME/BIPOC candidates every year to study either the Master Sommelier or Master of Wine exams.

Applications open on March 8th and candidates have until April 16th to submit their applications.

The funding levels are impressive, with £55,000 per candidate, to cover the full course fees and exam.

But the scholarship also includes an exceptional one-year internship programme, which could see candidates spending time at some of the most famous wine estates in the world.

Winners could spend time at Opus One, Cheval Blanc – and a number of other exceptional wine estates
Cheval Blanc

Cheval Blanc, Chateau d’Yquem, Egon Muller, Opus One, Colgin, Liber Pater, Catena, Casa Lapostolle, Symington Estates and Smith Haut-Lafite are just some of the names to have signed up to the programme.

The successful candidate can also spend time at famous ‘wine universities’ such as UC Davis, Kedge in Bordeaux and the OIV.

Applications will be considered by a team of judges including Jancis Robinson MW, Clement Robert MS of Annabel’s, black US super-somm Carlton McCoy MS, Raj Parr of Domaine de la Cote and Nina Basset, hospitality guru and widow of Gerard Basset. Successful candidates will need to be of WSET Diploma or Advanced Sommelier level.

The Awards ceremony at Annabel’s will be a five-star affair, from wine to food to entertainment

The winners will be announced at the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony in October (Covid restrictions permitting). The extraordinarily five-star event will be held at Annabel’s in London. ‘Deliberately glamorous’ it will feature exceptional wines (think DRC, Dom Perignon P2 and Yquem) and food by three-star Michelin chef Mauro Colagreco, winner of San Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurant in 2019.

Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur. Menton. France

The event will also see the announcement of the winning wineries from the Gerard Basset Fine Wine Report. Voted for by wine experts all round the world, the award is described by organiser Lewis Chester as ‘the FIFA World Player of Year awards for wine’.

But in addition to the eye-catching Diversity Scholarship awards, the Gerard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation will be making donations to up to 15 organisations around the world who are dedicating to increasing the participation of previously ignored or disadvantaged groups from beginner level (think WSET Level 1) upwards.

These could be anything from a disability group in New York, to WSET educational programmes in West Africa or funding a wine educational course for Aboriginal peoples in Australia.

Sommelier Collective members are being encouraged to

  1. apply for the Diversity Scholarship if they fit the criteria
  2. encourage any uplift groups that they are a part of to apply for funding
  3. fill in the Survey for the Wine Report (particularly if they are an MS or work in a fine dining restaurant with a good knowledge of fine wine)

Have your say in the Survey for the Global Fine Wine Report (opens March 8th). 

Published by