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Sir George Fistonich at the IWSC 50th Anniversary Awards Banquet

Last Thursday night (28th November), at the annual IWSC Awards Banquet, Sir George Fistonich, founder and owner of acclaimed New Zealand winery Villa Maria and IWSC President (2019), gave his final speech before passing the baton to the 2020 President, Tamara Roberts, CEO of Ridgeview.

Sir George was the 44th IWSC President joining a prestigious line up of winemakers and wine experts from around the world who have previously held the title.  At Thursday’s event he gave an inspirational and perceptive handover speech, which explored trends in the global drinks trade.  Received with enthusiasm, Sir George talked about the rise of lower abv drinking and younger consumers buying less but seeking better quality when it comes to wine.

The event, held at the historic Guildhall in the City of London, celebrated the IWSC’s 50th anniversary with the announcement of the IWSC and WSET Future 50 line-up. The guests were able to try samples the IWSC’s very special limited edition 50th anniversary blended malt Scotch whisky created by five of the world’s best master blenders. A new range of awards were introduced at the banquet in recognition of the anniversary year.

Sir George, who celebrated his 80th birthday a week ago, said of his time in the role: “It was a great honour to be selected as IWSC President for the past year.  I am a proud New Zealander so feel I have been able to represent not only Villa Maria but also the country, while in the role. I really believe in the power of Awards such as the wonderful IWSC to help bridge the gap between winery and consumer by providing that independent seal of approval.”