IWSC awards Emerging Talent in Hospitality trophy as outdoor drinking and dining returns

IWSC news

Tue 13 Apr 2021

By Pip Mortimer

It seems appropriate this week to be announcing the award for Emerging Talent in Hospitality, just as the on-trade in England gradually reopens after its most challenging year. But what has emerged from the enforced shutting of our many pubs, bars and restaurants is how important this industry is to daily life; the interweaving of much of our social lives, relaxation and relationships take place against the backdrop of these establishments and in the safe hands of the people who run them. View the nominees

The importance of our hospitality industry is highlighted in this new award, with the IWSC looking for the brightest star and innovator. In partnership with the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore, the IWSC searched for someone who embodied the hospitality industry’s values, while disrupting the accepted norms and redefining how customers interact with their drinks.

We feel our winner personifies these values, with our judging panel saying: “He is truly emerging as a talent to watch.” This is praise indeed for a man who is “on a journey from kitchen porter to being the shinning light of the English wine industry.”

Luke Harbor entered the hospitality trade as a way of making a bit of pocket money and then, like so many, was bitten by the hospitality bug – he claims tasting a bottle of Château Latour 1996 was the turning point. Joining ‘The Pig Hotel’ group in 2016, his natural ability in communication and building relationships saw him land the role of assistant sommelier for The Pig in Kent (pictured below).


As Harbor says, the world of the sommelier is in transition. “Far are the days of sommeliers dictating what wine you must and must not drink.” It is this keen insight and innovation of a traditional role that has led him into training: delivering WSET classes and awards to his colleagues.

Harbor understands the nuances and privilege that such a position in the hospitality industry holds. “Part of the joy is seeing new faces and meeting guests every day. I am welcomed into their experience, many of which are special occasions, notable life milestones that they will treasure for years to come. For those few moments we share, I can communicate my passion and translate that into steering their wine and food decisions.”

In addition to his understanding of the customer experience and the support and education of his colleagues, he is also emerging as a champion of British wine and food, and the sustainable practices that surround them. The IWSC judging panel agreed that Harbor understands how all these different strands come together to create the perfect customer experience – which is why he is being compared to the late, great Gerard Basset OBE.

Therefore, the IWSC and the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore are delighted to announce this year’s winner of the Emerging Talent in Hospitality Award as Luke Harbor.

The following results have also been announced: