Our History

50 years of excellence

                              Our History

1969

1969

1969

  • The IWSC is founded by wine chemist Anton Massel as Club Oenologique, a competition created to reward excellence in wine and spirit production.

1970

1970

1970

  • The first official competition takes place, with Massel inviting producers from around the world to take part.

1978

1978

1978

  • On 14 April, Club Oenologique is officially renamed as the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
  • The IWSC Awards Banquet takes place at the Palace of Westminster.

1979

1979

  • The IWSC celebrates its 10th anniversary.

1981

1981

1981

  • The IWSC receives its highest number of entries to date, with 1,104 products sent in from 38 countries.

1983

1983

1983

  • Robert Mondavi (right) of Mondavi Winery (USA) becomes President and instigates the tradition of Presidents coming exclusively from wine and spirits producers, which continues to this day.

1985

1985

1985

  • The IWSC Awards Banquet takes place at the House of Commons.

1990

1990

  • Rainer Karl Lingenfelder wins the very first Winemaker of the Year award.

1993

1993

1993

  • 34 countries enter the awards.
  • The IWSC receives entries from Switzerland and Russia for the first time.

1994

1994

1994

  • The IWSC’s silver jubilee coincided with the 500th anniversary of Scotch whisky, so to celebrate the IWSC invited seven major companies to create limited edition blends: Whyte & Mackay, Diageo, Burn Stewart, William Grant, Morrison Bowmore Distillers, Allied Distillers & Inverhouse Distillers. The distillers were interviewed and their whiskies were blind-tasted by the IWSC for the 'Spirit of Scotland' award.
  • Pictured: Michael Jackaman (President) presenting the 'Spirit of Scotland' trophy to Richard Paterson of Whyte and Mackay.

1995

1995

1995

  • Marchese Leonardo de’Frescobaldi (Italy) becomes President.
  • The IWSC hosts its first open tasting, showcasing an array of gold medal winning wines. 

1996

1996

1996

  • The Communicator of the Year award is initiated to celebrate individuals who have made a difference to the industry, with the first recipient being Jancis Robinson MW (pictured accepting the IWSC's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019).

1998

1998

  • The competition introduces a new trophy to give recognition to wines and spirits sold by UK retailers, which is awarded to Waitrose.

1999

1999

1999

  • More than 90 judges attend the IWSC tastings, including a number of MWs.
  • Chemical analysis of wines continues.

2000

2000

2000

  • Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (France) becomes President.
  • Entries increase by 30%.

2002

2002

  • Producers are able to enter the awards online for the first time.

2004

2004

2004

  • Paul Symington (left) of Symington Family Port Shippers (Portugal) becomes President.

2005

2005

2005

  • Wolf Blass (right) of Wolf Blass Wines (Australia) becomes President.
  • The IWSC premises are moved to Dunsfold Park in Surrey, where there is more cellar space and dedicated tasting rooms.

2006

2006

2006

  • The Awards Banquet takes place at Old Billingsgate, as the usual venue of the Guildhall is under refurbishment.

2007

2007

2007

  • Gina Gallo of E&J Gallo Family Estates (USA) becomes President.
  • The judging period is extended from four to six months to enable wine producers in the Southern Hemisphere to enter their fresh vintages when they are ready to be released.
  • Entries in spirits categories increase by 16%, making the IWSC the largest spirits competition in the world.

2009

2009

2009

  • IWSC produces a 40th Anniversary Blended Scotch Whisky, with contriutions from 17 distilleries, which is served at a special dinner held at Hopetoun House, Edinburgh.
  • Allan Cheeseman and Sir Ian Good were awarded special trophies for their contributions to the wine and spirits industries over the last 40 years.

2011

2011

2011

  • Prince Robert of Luxembourg, of Domaine Clarence Dillon (France) becomes President.

2013

2013

2013

  • G. Garvin Brown IV (right), of Brown-Forman Corporation (USA) becomes President.

2014

2014

2014

  • Gin becomes the third largest spirits category as we introduce trophies to recognise London Dry and Contemporary styles.

2017

2017

2017

  • The IWSC broadcasts the Awards Banquet live on Facebook for the first time, reaching 30,000 people worldwide.

2018

2018

2018

  • The IWSC’s sister company Club Oenologique launches, named after the competition’s original title.

2019

2019

2019

  • The IWSC celebrates its 50th anniversary and makes a number of changes to bring the competition into its next era, including moving our wine judging sessions to central London and creating a commemorative whisky blend.