Interview with Christelle Guibert, CEO of International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC).
Reflecting on last year’s competition, could you share your insights on the overall experience, and how, in your perspective, it has impacted the participants and the industry?
Reflecting on last year’s competition, our judging experience in Georgia was exceptional. It transcended the boundaries of a typical wine competition, becoming a transformative event for both participants and the industry as a whole. The collaboration created a unique platform, allowing Georgian producers to exhibit their wines, the breathtaking landscapes, the rich culture, and the warm-hearted people to an international audience of wine experts.
The event seamlessly blended the rigorous judging process, where our esteemed panel evaluated over 500 wines from Georgia, with immersive visits to local producers and wineries. This distinctive approach exceeded the confines of a traditional tasting room in London, offering an unparalleled experience. The judges had the opportunity to delve deep into what makes Georgia truly unique – from its indigenous grape varieties to the traditional winemaking techniques using ‘quevri’ and the exquisite local cuisine.
What set this experience apart was its ability to turn our international experts into genuine ambassadors for Georgian wines. The judges not only relished the wines but also discovered the essence of Georgian viticulture and the passion that goes into every bottle. This newfound knowledge and enthusiasm were carried back to their workplaces, where they shared their discoveries with the wider wine industry. The impact sparked genuine interest and curiosity about Georgian wines among professionals and enthusiasts alike.
Last year, our venture in Georgia celebrated the diversity and excellence of Georgian wines, fostered international connections, deepened cultural understanding, and elevated the global perception of Georgia as a prominent wine-producing region. It was a true celebration of wine, culture, and camaraderie, leaving an indelible mark on both the participants and the industry.
Given the learnings from the last competition, are there aspects you anticipate being enhanced or modified in this year’s contest to elevate the overall experience?
Building upon the remarkable success of last year’s event, we find ourselves in a unique position where the foundation laid was so strong that we wouldn’t alter a thing about the past experience. It served as an outstanding introduction to the captivating country of Georgia, serving as a launchpad for deeper exploration and understanding of its diverse wine culture.
This year, we are excited to bring both new and returning judges into this enriching experience. The enthusiasm of those judges who had the privilege of attending last year lies in delving even deeper into the intricacies of Georgia’s indigenous grape varieties and forging connections with new industry peers. This eagerness to expand their knowledge reflects the enduring impact of our previous venture, fostering a continuous learning environment among our esteemed panel.
What adds an extra layer of excitement to this year’s event is the inclusion of Armenia. We firmly believe in the exceptional promise of Armenian wines, foreseeing their potential in the UK market and on the global stage. As the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), we are committed to championing emerging wine markets, and extending an invitation to Armenia aligns perfectly with our mission.
We are immensely grateful to Georgia for its gracious hospitality and commitment to supporting countries with a rich wine heritage. Their generosity in hosting this event and their dedication to fostering collaboration among nations serve as a testament to the unity and camaraderie that the world of wine can inspire. This year’s competition promises to be a celebration of exceptional wines and a testament to the enduring spirit of collaboration and exploration within the global wine community.
What are your expectations and aspirations for this year’s competition, and how do you foresee it contributing to the advancement and evolution of the field?
Our expectations for this year’s competition come with anticipation and excitement. Building on the vibrant connections we forged during our previous visit, we eagerly look forward to immersing ourselves even further into the rich tapestry of the Georgian wine industry. The prospect of meeting bright and engaging individuals within the Georgian wine community fills us with enthusiasm. These interactions serve as invaluable opportunities to impart our knowledge and, more importantly, to learn and exchange ideas.
In the grander scheme, our vision for this year’s competition is to contribute significantly to the advancement and evolution of Georgian wines. By fostering these connections and deepening our knowledge, we are not just judging wines but catalysing a cultural exchange, sharing wisdom, and celebrating diversity within the wine industry. Through this synergy, we anticipate that this year’s competition will leave an indelible mark, inspiring further collaboration, innovation, and a deeper appreciation of the wines and the country.