About us

Who we are

Wine, spirits, knowledge, community. Since 1969.

The IWSC is more than a competition. It is a global wine and spirits community, focused on people and expertise. Our mission is to champion the best wine and spirits from around the world by taking a personal approach to our partners’ needs.

Our history

In 1969, Austrian-born and England-based viticulturist and wine chemist Anton Massel decided to set up an awarding body for wine and spirits that focused on scientific analysis as well as tasting. He called it the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Winning an IWSC award has never been easy. At the time, quality control within the industry was not as strong as it is today, so the concept of testing – as well as tasting – every single entry was radical, and quickly cemented the IWSC’s reputation for stringent standards and an uncompromising approach to awarding medals.

This reputation for quality and rigour stands to this day, and it’s something we are very proud of.

With entries first tested by Massel, then blind-tasted by his wine appreciation group, Club Oenologique, things grew quickly. By the late 1970s the IWSC, operating out of the charming Surrey village of Ockley, had backing from the UK Wine Guild and began trading as a limited company.

Entry numbers continued to grow, and the IWSC’s reputation gained global traction, spurred on by the presence of an annually-elected President, who acted as an ambassador for the awards. Previous Presidents include notable names such as Robert Mondavi, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Facundo L. Bacardi.

Numerous changes in location and ownership followed, and in 1999 the IWSC was bought by the publishing group Highbury Harpers. Nowadays it is owned by The Conversion Group, which includes Club Oenologique, Fine + Rare, The Whisky Lounge and Academie du Vin, providing access to an even wider community of experts.

Today, we are a forward-thinking global community focused on people and expertise. Our founding commitment to excellence still underpins all that we do, and we are proud to represent some of the best wine and spirits from around the world.

Our experts

Our experts

The IWSC team

The IWSC team

A timeline of our history

A timeline of our history

Presidents & ambassadors

Presidents & ambassadors

The IWSC Foundation

The IWSC Foundation is a non-profit organisation and the charitable arm of the IWSC. It was established in October 2018 with the aim of advancing the causes that are key to the growth and long-term health of the wine and spirit industry globally.

Find out more