Each month we put the spotlight on a member of the IWSC team.
This month it’s our very own Managing Director, Allen Gibbons.
How long have you been the MD?
I became MD of the group two years ago, although I’ve been a Director of the IWSC for four years.
What is it like running the Competition?
Running the Competition, any wine competition can be a white knuckle ride, as unlike most businesses, you start each year at nil, so when entry deadlines are approaching it can get quite tense.
An interesting day in your life as MD of the IWSC?
The best few days are undoubtedly those around the Banquet in November, the culmination of our year. The night before, there’s a private dinner with the Presidents of the IWSC, sitting around a table with Prince Robert of Luxembourg , Prinz Michael zu Salm-Salm, May de Lencquesaing , Wolf Blass, Peter Sichel , Paul Symington is something not many get to do. The next day we spend all day setting up the Guildhall ready for the Banquet. Seeing the results of our work and celebrating the work of others makes this a great evening and on day three we have our sponsors lunch in Mossimanns as a thank you to all those who support us. The outgoing President hands over to the new President at this time. Once that’s over, the diet begins.
What are the biggest challenges for the wine industry in the UK market this year?
That’s a tough one as I think there are quite a few but I think the biggest challenge is the issues of binge drinking. The binge drinking culture isn’t just a threat on certain streets in certain towns it affects us all and if it continues it has the potential to destroy the industry and product we enjoy.
What has been your biggest achievement since being MD of IWSC?
There are a few, such as setting up our Associate Judge programme a few years back giving WSET students the chance to taste with us, moving our US judging to California and now our South African tastings.
What makes you laugh?
My children, QI, Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, lots really.
What makes you cry?
Gridlock in Guildford when there’s an accident on the A3.
Any tips for entrants to help them make the most of the UK market?
The UK must be one of the most diverse wine markets in the world, and people here are quite open minded, find a unique approach and angle and people here will try it.
What sets the IWSC apart from other competitions?
The key attributes of the IWSC are integrity, its prestige and its independence and that shows through in a number of ways. For instance, being independent of any media organisation means no editorial influence can come to bear on the results and the judges never see or touch a bottle just a numbered glass so there is no chance of personal preference influencing the results.
Their results are then monitored and analysed by an independant Technical and Judging Committee. We are the only competition to taste products over a six month period at our headquarters, which means current vintage wines are tasted from many countries giving a stronger commercial benefit to award winners.