The Wine and Spirit Education Trust has been given one of the UK’s highest business awards: The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2015 in International Trade.

The WSET annual graduation ceremony takes place in London’s Guildhall. This image is from the 2013 event.

The Trust (WSET) was founded in 1969 as a training body for the UK wine trade, but has expanded rapidly overseas over the past decade, with more than 56,000 people worldwide sitting for a WSET qualification in the last academic year.

The proportion of non-UK candidates over the same timescale has more than doubled from 37% to over 75%, while overall candidate numbers have more than quadrupled, covering some 62 countries.

‘As a country with a historically low domestic production, the UK has always been one of the world’s largest importers of wine,’ said WSET chief executive Ian Harris.

‘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.’

WSET candidate numbers in France have quadrupled since 2008, while numbers in Australia have increased eightfold over the same timescale – and Greater China is fast catching the UK to become the WSET’s number one market.

Queen’s Awards – of which there are about 140 this year – are made annually by HM The Queen for the highest levels of business excellence in the fields of International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development.

Written by Richard Woodard