The IWC Industry Awards' judging process stands as one of the most thorough, rigorous, and esteemed processes in the wine industry, ensuring that our awards maintain the highest level of respect and recognition. Our objective is to offer entrants a comprehensive evaluation of their business while ensuring that all awards are distributed fairly and meritoriously.

A panel of expert judges is hand-picked by International Wine Challenge to decide the winners. Great care is taken to avoid conflicts of interest, and all judges must sign a non-disclosure agreement form before being allowed to receive the entries.

The judges draw up a shortlist from the entries for each category. The judges can disqualify an entry if it fails to meet the criteria. They can also reassign an entry to a different (or extra) category if they consider it appropriate. Each category is judged against the criteria outlined in the category entry form.


Who are the IWC Industry Awards Judges?

Helen McGinn

Helen is the author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, an award-winning wine blog and best-selling wine book. She spent almost a decade sourcing wines around the world as a wine buyer for Tesco, then spent the next half-decade pregnant. Married with three children, she writes a weekly drinks column for the Daily Mail’s Femail magazine and has been the resident wine expert on ITV’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show.

Her latest book, Teetotal Tipples, was published in December 2016 and her third book is due in the Autumn. Awards include Fortnum & Mason’s Online Drink Writer of the Year and Red Magazine’s Best Blogger.

Anne Burchett

Anne Burchett DipWSET is a freelance wine marketing and communications specialist, and a writer and lecturer on the business of wine. She has worked for over thirty years in a number of general management, and sales and marketing positions for various French wine producers, namely, Chantovent, Skalli, Vinival, Grands Chais de France and Castel UK, and for Waverley Vintners.

Her latest role before setting up her own business was MD of Sopexa UK, an agency for international marketing, promotions, press and public relations specialising in food and wine.

She has written a novel, Tasting Notes, which was published on Amazon in December 2020.

Abi Hirshfeld

With over 20 years of experience in the wine trade, Abi is highly experienced in sourcing quality wines from producers and establishing routes to market. She is currently working freelance on a variety of projects as well as lecturing on wine buying and negotiation.

Abi spent several years as Buying Director at Berry Bros. & Rudd where she was responsible for the management of supplier relationships, producer acquisitions and for all wines sold by both the BBandR private client business as well as Fields, Morris and Verdin (FM&V), a specialist wine importer and distributor.

Previously, Abi had been Wine Director at Direct Wines Ltd (trading as Laithwaites Wine), responsible for buying all wines sold globally, including the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, and Poland. Abi held various roles here including Head of Merchandising, Wine Buyer and International Wine Director.

Laure Patry

Laure began her career in North Yorkshire and Bath as part of her initial UK placements following sommelier school in Angers, the Loire Valley before moving to London in 2003.

In total, she has worked the past eight years for Gordon Ramsay Holdings, including almost two years as Assistant Head Sommelier at Claridges, and a further six years as Head Sommelier at Maze where she gained the respect and attention of Jason.

In 2015 just set up her own project with Jason at Social Wine and Tapas, a retail and wine bar/Tapas which focuses on smaller producers. Due to the difficult trading environment, it was closed in 2019. She continues to work as executive head sommelier for the group and supports each new restaurant opening and assists all.

Ian Harris

Ian is best-known as the CEO of WSET from 2002 to 2022 – leading the growth of WSET into the global organisation which it is today. Having gone to university with the intention of becoming a teacher, a life-changing year in Bordeaux soon opened Ian’s eyes to the world of wine, ultimately kick-starting what would become a lifelong career in the wine and spirit industry. On graduating from London University with a degree in French, Ian joined Christopher & Co and then its parent company, Waverley Vintners, where he was their first Wine Development Manager, designing and running wine sales courses. In 1987, he joined Seagram – initially in the UK, then he spent two years as Global Marketing Manager for Martell, based in Cognac, France. Ian returned to the UK in 1995 as Marketing Director and then Commercial Director for Seagram UK and the Nordic markets. In 2014 Ian was named Drinks Business ‘Man of the Year’, in 2015 WSET received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade - the highest accolade for business in the UK - and Ian has also received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Drinks Retailing and the Drinks Business. In 2018 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours List, for services to the wine and spirits industries.

Ray O’Connor MW

Ray O’Connor is an Irish Master of Wine based in the U.K. He was formerly sommelier to Gordon Ramsay, in London’s Michelin starred Maze restaurant, followed by 7 years as Commercial Manager for the International Wine Challenge. For the past 10 years he has been the Wine Director for Naked Wines responsible for discovering new wines and managing a rigorous quality control program. Today he is an independent wine consultant specialising in bulk transportation of wine and works continuously on improving the quality perception of wines through blending, range development and communication.

Patrick Sewell

After leaving university Patrick embarked on a career in the construction industry, both in the UK and Malaysia. However, upon returning to the UK commenced a retail path. Now the owner and MD of Sewell on the go stores based in Hull & East Yorkshire. His extracurricular roles alongside the ‘day job’ involve being a director of several other organisations: Sewell Ventures, Sewell Employee Ownership Trust and the Association of Convenience Stores (both Main & Independent’s Boards).

Andrew Hawes

Best known as Managing Director of Mentzendorff & Co Ltd from 2004 to 2023, having joined the Bollinger and Fladgate Group owned fine wine importer in 1996 heading up Sales and Marketing operations. During this time Andrew served periods on the Board of the WSTA, as a Board Trustee of both the WSET and The Drinks Trust, the latter for which he also raised funds over a 15 year period via a series of cycling challenges in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy travelling between wine producers with groups from the trade. Throughout this time Andrew was Secretary of The Madame Bollinger Foundation (a Principal supporter of the IMW) and sat on the Bollinger Group Management Committee. He served as Chairman of the UK Champagne Agents Association for two periods totalling over a decade working closely with the Epernay based Committee Champagne and the UK Champagne Information Bureau.

Prior to Mentzendorff Andrew was Managing Director of Champagne de Venoge UK a subsidiary he set up in 1994 having left Matthew Clark where he developed his career in sales and marketing roles having joined as a Management Trainee in 1985 following graduation from the University of Warwick with a degree in Philosophy and Politics. Currently Andrew is consulting for the Bollinger Group on the UK market.

When will the entries be judged?

Judging will take place in May 2024. The finalists in each category will be published online on 14 May 2024. The winners will be revealed at the IWC Awards on 9th July 2024.

For information on the IWC Industry Awards Spain click here.