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Gastronomy and Wine Portal

WTA Jury

New awards season, new WTA Jury or almost new!

16.09.2022, News

The WTA Organizing Committee keeps moving through its marvelous journey in the world of wine & spirits tourism. On our way, we keep meeting catchy personalities, businesses and locations. In the new 2022-2023 campaign year, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and present our discoveries to you. And of course, we cannot start without revealing the names of those who will choose the final WTA winners in the new awards season after the popular vote.


The formation of the WTA Jury Committee is at the final stage. And we are proud of each of those incredible personalities of the world of enogastronomy who became part of the jury this year! Therefore, it is with great pleasure that we announce to you some names. Robert Joseph, Felicity Carter, Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez, Stephane Badet, Prof. Dr. Prof. h.c. Gergely Szolnoki and Per Karlsson continue providing their expertise in the WTA second edition.

Some new names of professionals in the wine and wine tourism industry also appeared in the WTA 2022-2023 Jury list:

  • Nina Basset, FIH Hotelier, Mentor, Co-Founding Trustee and Chair of the Gerard Basset Foundation, Co-Founder and Vice President of the UK Sommelier Academy.
  • Irina Bystritskaya, international consultant in regional and global development of wine brands and tourism, Deputy Director of the National Vine and Wine Office of Moldova 2017-2021.
  • Maria Athanasopoulou, Founder of Respond On Demand, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the World Food Travel Association, a Master Culinary Travel Professional.
  • Sarah Abbott MW, Founder and Director of Swirl Wine Group, marketing strategist, communicator, wine judge and writer.
  • Erik Wolf, founder of the food travel trade industry, Founder and Executive Director of the World Food Travel Association.
  • Ester Garcia Adrados, Director of School of Wine Tourism of Catalonia and Vocational Training Institute of Wine Tourism of Catalonia, Director of the Wine Business School.

Before hitting the road to the WTA second edition, which officially starts in November but the early bird registration is already open, we had nice chats with our jury members. So, let’s find out their professional plans and activities they are working on at the moment.

Nina Basset

Nina Basset

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

My son, Romané is tasked with gathering the funding applications for 2023 for the Gerard Basset Foundation, in readiness for myself and fellow trustees to decide on those we are able to fund and work with. I am helping him with this. In addition, we are in the last stages of

planning the fund raising event, to be held in Florence, in conjunction with Liquid Icons and the Golden Vines, to raise funds for the Foundation in order that we can offer scholarships and funding to our global grantees. I am also helping to train the sommelier, Eric Zwiebel, who will be representing the UK in the 2023 ASI World Sommelier Championships. I am also involved in the launching of the new, UK based, ASI affiliated, United Kingdom Sommelier Academy, created by Somms for Somms within the UK – the website is about to launch very soon. Last, but, by no means least, I am focused on promoting the recently made, 67 Pall Mall TV film, about my late husband, Gerard Basset, “A Life in Wine, Gerard Basset, the World’s Favourite Sommelier”.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

I don’t think anyone imagined the Russian invasion of Ukraine would happen as it has, nor envisage the impact of the conflict for the wine trade there. At the same time, I am not sure “surprised” is the right word, but certainly saddened to see the terrible fires devastating vineyards in Bordeaux and beyond. It’s always so sad to read about such terrible occurrences and to hear the impact it has on those involved.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

I recently heard my late husband being interviewed and the question was `”What is an important factor to be a Sommelier?” and Gerard replied, “to love people”. The interviewer questioned this and asked, “not to love wine?” and Gerard replied, “no, first and foremost you have to love people” and I think that response stands true for so many aspects of being involved in both the wine and hospitality world.

 

Sarah Abbott MW

Sarah Abbott MW

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

Lots of work with Georgia, which is of course a wine region that is quite familiar to Ukrainian wine lovers. My company, Swirl, has partnered with the National Wine Agency of Georgia for many years. We are preparing tastings of Georgian Wine for UK buyers, and in October I will be leading a judging panel in Georgia to judge wine, with international and Georgian judges, to highlight the very best Georgian Wine. That is happening around the Gurjaani wine festival. We’re very excited about it. I’m also preparing the next edition of The Old Vine conference, which is a non-profit organisation to promote heritage vineyards around the world. And then I will be in Italy for 2 weeks: 1 in the Unesco Heritage site of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, and another week in Etna, Sicily, where I am speaking about old vines at the Taormina Gourmet Festival.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

I was surprised and delighted to learn that a shipment of wine from Ukraine has made it into the UK, thanks to Propeller Wine, and that they are selling very quickly. The resilience and determination of the winemakers is incredible. Wine is a symbol of identity and civilisation, so although it may seem trivial with everything that is happening, it’s positive that this trade is happening.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

The most important thing about any wine is how it makes you feel.

 

Erik Wolf

Erik Wolf

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

We are currently working to promote our Culinary Capitals destination certification program. We’ve just signed on our second destination and are in discussion with 3 more.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

I don’t hear much about wine events, so I cannot say.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

I’ve been reading a lot about how small restaurants are having such trouble staying in business. For example, in the UK right now, it has been predicted that as many as 75% of British pubs may be forced to close due to the cost of power, which they can no longer afford. Current world events are threatening our culinary cultures, and we need to be aware of this so that we can take steps to preserve and promote them.

 

Maria Athanasopoulou

Maria Athanasopoulou

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

My company Respond On Demand Ltd is a tourism marketing company and specializes in organizing b2b sales workshops where tourism entrepreneurs meet travel agents and tour operators from all over the world. We are currently preparing a b2b sales workshop in Greece, in Athens in October and one in London in early November.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

I have been surprised by the strength of wine tourism during covid. In particular, how quickly wine tourism has been adapted to the quarantine conditions, with online tours, online wine tastings away from the wineries, etc.

 What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

It’s not really a statement but more of a trend that is starting to show up in wine tourism. That is, that wine can be the main factor in promoting areas that have not been popular tourist destinations so far. I believe that wine tourism, apart from being a type of tourism, can also become an excellent marketing tool for destinations that are not yet very well known.

 

Ester Garcia Adrados

Ester Garcia Adrados

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

The School of Wine Tourism of Catalonia has a higher professional training in Wine Tourism that is taught within the Bologna Plan. Our goal for next year is to welcome international students.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

The Flowering Festival of the Mediterranean Wine Road – La Carretera del vi. A wine route of 13 wineries that promotes organic products and links the mountain with the beach through 7 municipalities, 33 km enjoying its wineries, restaurants, accommodation and cultural activities.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

At the Barcelona Wine Week, Núria Altés, owner of the Herència Altés winery, member of Wineries for Climate Action, reflected on the importance of incorporating sustainability as a necessity in all the lines of action of the wineries in order to survive in the market.

 

Irina Bystritskaya

Irina Bystritskaya

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

At the moment, I am collaborating with an international project to support the Ukrainian wine sector and develop the Wine of Ukraine office format. Two large projects on tourism and wine journalism are also on the way.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

By far the most interesting for me this year was to see the return after the pandemic of the largest wine exhibitions and events in the wine industry: Wine of Italy, Prowein, London Wine Fair and others. “Same but different” indeed!

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

Live in the present moment, make the best decisions, keep your eyes open for opportunities, think outside the box, be creative. Be HERE and NOW!

 

Robert Joseph

Robert Joseph

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

My time is divided between trying to finish a book on why people choose to buy the particular wines they do; my weekly commitments to Meininger’s which include trying to find something fresh to say about the wine industry every 7 days; making marketing plans for our le Grands Noir wines and working towards my launch of some exciting new Georgian wines next year. Not forgetting some teaching and consultancy.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

If you mean ‘event’ I guess it has to have been the imposition of tariffs on French wines by Doinald Trump and the even tougher similar move by China against Australia. Wine has clearly now become a political football.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

“The world of wine today is almost unrecognisable from the way it was 50 years ago. None of us can imagine what it is going to look like in even 25 years time.”

 

Stephane Badet

Stephane Badet

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

We need to train and to coach our students on agro-ecological transition and climate change adaptation. So I work actually on how and what to teach and to train to the next generation of growers and winemakers. I was last summer in Canada and they are producing wine with resistant and hybrid varieties we don’t know all about in France. It may be a way. We are also working with 4 other high schools and universities of 4 other EU countries on how to adapt our technical management regarding climate change and global warming. I hope to work in the next months and years in Ukraine to help the wine sector restart after the war! Even if it is not completely stopped.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most? 

Very early harvesting this year and global warming this summer of course! Climate change changes everything! The courage of Ukrainian winegrowers to stay and to continue to work in their vineyards and in their cellars, even when the war is very close (Mykolaiv, Odessa…) Bravo!!!

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

We have probably been too optimistic in our predictions of climate change. The climate is changing faster than we estimated! Experts of IPCC International Panel for Climate Change.

 

Prof. Dr. Prof. h.c. Gergely Szolnoki

Prof. Dr. Prof. h.c. Gergely Szolnoki

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

Recently, we´ve been investigating special aspects of wine tourism such as caravanning tourism, sustainable or organic wine tourism. In the future, we plan to further advance and expand our research in other fields of wine tourism.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

In general, I like all kinds of wine events because they bring people together in a very pleasant way. This year I was very pleased to see how the international wine fairs started again after a two-year break.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

Rather than quoting other people’s statements, I have created my own: It’s nice to explore the heterogeneity of the wine world on the retail shelves or in a restaurant, but the true beauty of wine is only revealed in its cradle – in the winery.

 

Per Karlsson

Per Karlsson

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

We have just started the autumn season for our wine tours. September-October is always very busy since a lot of people want to go visiting vineyards at this time of the year. Tours at this time of the year sometimes coincide with the harvest, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. It means there are lots of things happening in the vineyards and in the wine cellar. But it also means that the winemakers are extremely busy, and since we want to meet the winemakers on the tours that we organise it can be a challenge. (Meeting the winemaker gives a very different experience to the people visiting the winery than meeting a guide or marketing person.) We are also busy preparing the winter tours to the southern hemisphere, putting together the final details, to Chile-Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand, as well as planning the full-year wine tour program for 2023, so it is a busy period. And in addition, we are preparing a new book that will focus on environmental issues and sustainability. It is similar to the book we did in 2014 (Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking; Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture), but a lot has happened since. It will be quite different and even broader in scope. It will be our twelfth wine book, to be published in 2023.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

Over the last year, there have been several noteworthy surprising things happening. The catastrophic harvest in France in 2021, that struck a big blow to French wine producers. The amazing rebound of champagne sales. Several remarkable transactions (wineries being sold). The drop in wine consumption during the pandemic. Etc, etc. But what is perhaps the most surprising, and encouraging, is the amazing resilience of the wine producers in a time of great difficulties. All the world’s wine producers were hard struck by the effects of the pandemic. The South African government almost strangled the wine industry. Many other countries restricted sales in one way or another. France, and to a lesser extent Italy and Spain, had a catastrophic harvest. Many countries and regions struggle with exports to some markets, in particular sales to China and Russia being throttled. And yet, when we speak to winemakers, they have a remarkable optimism about the future. Surprisingly so and very encouraging for the whole world of wine. And on top of it, the first comments on the 2022 harvest sounds as if it will be very good.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

I can’t point to any single statement or quote but it is rather something that I hear from many producers, as well as from consumers. (We meet a lot of both consumers and producers on our wine tours.) Again and again the subject of sustainability comes up as something that is on the top of (or near) many people’s agenda. Again, that is encouraging but one should also give a word of caution: Sustainability and the environment is not an easy question. There are not necessarily any easy answers. The questions are complex and the answers may be different depending on your perspective, your situation, or on your priorities. (The Swedish monopoly is in the process of making a mistake by over-simplifying it to a question of a simple “yes” or “no” with their “sustainable choice” labelling. It’s not a question you can reduce to a red or green light.) But that so many people are talking about this is fantastic. And that’s why we want to contribute to the debate and to people’s knowledge in the area, with our forthcoming book on organics, the environment and sustainability in a broad sense, that I mentioned above.

 

Felicity Carter

Felicity Carter

What are you currently working on or what are your professional plans for the nearest time?

I am working with ARENI Global, the fine wine think tank in London, to plan its future. I am also editing some books for private clients, and writing a book proposal of my own.

What event in the world of wine surprised you the most?

Two things. The first is that the digital growth during the pandemic has gone backwards. The second is how well sales of better quality wines are holding up, even though we have inflation and a looming recession. People really want quality.

What statement, recently heard or read, most corresponds to your views?

More and more people are saying that we can’t continue on as business as usual, given the realities of climate change. I completely agree with that.