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Wine ‘diversity scholarships’ launched by Gérard Basset foundation

New scholarships to help improve diversity among Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, and set to include internships at renowned wineries, have been announced by a foundation created in memory of Gérard Basset OBE MW MS.

The Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships are being launched by the Gérard Basset Wine Education Charitable Foundation and also Liquid Icons, the publishing and research company cofounded by the late, great sommelier.

There will be two scholarships ‘for aspiring black and ethnic minority students wishing to undertake the Masters of Wine (MW) and Master Sommelier (MS) programmes – open to candidates from all over the world,’ said the groups this week.

‘The fine wine industry is at ‘ground zero’ when it comes to diversity,’ said the groups in a press release.

‘For example, there are currently very few BAME / BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of colour] Masters of Wine globally and only three BAME / BIPOC Master Sommeliers.’

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Liquid Icons has also launched The Golden Vines Awards, in association with The Birley Clubs.

The not-for-profit awards will celebrate great wine producers around the world, as well as lay the foundation for a fundraising event to help the Basset Foundation support ‘various diversity and inclusion-related wine education funding programmes’.

An awards dinner is set to be held at Annabel’s private members’ club in London’s Mayfair area on 7 October this year.

Through the Golden Vines event and associated charity auctions, Liquid Icons said it expected to raise more than £1m for the Basset education foundation.

Among the auctions planned, a Golden Vines Fine Wines & Experience online auction is set to feature large formats of top fine wines, as well as a ‘money can’t buy’ experience for between six and 10 guests, it added.

More on the Basset Foundation Scholarships

Worth up to £55,000 for each scholar, the scholarships will cover course examination fees on the MW or MS programmes, plus loss of earnings as a result of missing work to do internships.

There will be opportunities to do work experience at some of the world’s most prestigious wineries, including:

  • Châteaux d’Yquem, Cheval Blanc, Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux;
  • Domaine des Lambrays, Domaine Baron Thénard and Domaine Laroche in Burgundy;
  • Dom Pérignon and Ruinart in Champagne;
  • Heitz Cellar, Colgin Cellars and Opus One in Napa Valley;
  • Weingut Egon Müller in the Mosel (Saar district).

Other wineries are also expected to take part.

Judges for the scholarship applications will be Nina Basset FIH, sommelier-turned-winemaker Rajat Parr (Sandhi Wines), Carlton McCoy Jr MS (CEO of Heitz Cellar), Clément Robert MS (Annabel’s / The Birley Clubs) and Jancis Robinson OBE MW.

Applications open on 8 March via the Liquid Icons website, with a deadline of Friday 16 April 2021.

The scholarships are part of a wider education, mentoring and internship programme.

Alongside the scholarships, Liquid Icons and the Basset foundation said they would use funding to support ‘diversity and inclusion-related wine education programmes’ at several leading institutions, including UC Davis and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

See also: 

Meet the 10 new Masters of Wine (2021)

Wine world legend Gérard Basset OBE MW MS dies (2019)

Master of Wine vs Master Sommelier: What’s the difference? (2017)

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