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About the IWC Merchant Awards

The IWC UK Merchant Awards, which celebrates its 31st Anniversary in 2022, were launched to recognize and reward the outstanding achievements of UK wine trade.

IWC UK Merchant Awards generates promotional and business opportunities for the winners in their actual and potential markets, rewarding the work of merchants, educators, distributors, marketers, agents... all those who contribute to bringing the joy of wine to the UK consumer.

In 2016, IWC Merchant Awards Spain was launched to reward those companies delivering outstanding service and retailing excellence to the Spanish wine consumer. Mateo & co, one of the leading agencies in the Spanish gastronomy sector based in Madrid manages the IWC Spanish Merchant Awards.

About International Wine Challenge

The International Wine Challenge (IWC) owned by William Reed, has been running for over three decades. The IWC is accepted as the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition which assesses every wine blind and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region, and vintage.

William Reed is passionate about the international wine and drinks industry. Our Drinks industry portfolio is underpinned by the International Wine Challenge, which helps producers from every region of the world extend their markets, reach the global wine community, and increase their potential.

William Reed is a leading B2B media company, trusted by businesses since 1862. Our award-winning expertise and global reach extend across Grocery & Retail, Hospitality, Food Manufacturing, Processing and Ingredients, Drinks, Pharmaceuticals& Cosmetics, Insights and Learning.

Why Enter?

By entering the IWC UK Merchant Awards you could increase consumer and trade awareness of your business & establish your company as a leader in its field. Winning an award carries a number of significant benefits:

  • Gains recognition for the team behind the business amongst industry peers, producers, suppliers and consumers.

  • Rewards your team and boosts morale.

  • Builds consumer and trade awareness through an established UK and International PR campaign.

  • Offers huge marketing opportunities for the company.

  • Establishes the company in the highest regard amongst its peers.


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 as outlined in the category entry form.

Who are the IWC UK Merchant Awards Judges?

Neil Bruce

Wine Margin Optimiser. London based. Joined the wine industry in 1992 with Seagram. Previous roles, since Seagram, include various senior sales positions, Commercial Manager at Bibendum (in charge of buying and supply chain teams), Wine Director at national wholesaler WaverleyTBS, Wine Consultant for four years (working exclusively with wine in On Trade) and latterly Head of Wine at Fuller’s / Asahi.

Occasional writer and has also contributed regularly to wine industry panels and debates over the years. Left Asahi to set up own wine consultancy (Studio Alto) as of December 2020. Has spent as much time on the sales side of the table as he has in senior buying roles.

Studied WSET up to Diploma level and has been a regular wine judge at various wine competitions.

Laura Jewell MW

Regional General Manager at Wine Australia for the UK and Europe since 2015, Laura previously spent 5 years heading up the wine development team at Tesco. She has also held significant roles at SPAR, HWCG and Sainsburys. Laura's specialities include UK bottling, all aspects of supermarket retailing and marketing.

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 out 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’ 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) with responsibility 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 difficult trading environment it was closed in 2019. She continues to work as executive head sommelier for the group and support each new restaurant opening and assist all.

Ian Harris

Having gone to university with the intention of becoming a teacher, a life-changing year as an assistant teacher 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. Ten years later, in 1987, he joined Seagram – initially in the UK, then in 1993-1995 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, also assuming General Management responsibility for 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 in 2016 he was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Drinks Retailing Awards. In 2018 Ian 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.

Christine Parkinson

Best-known for her multi-award-winning work as Group Head of Wine for Hakkasan, Christine is now Co-founder of drinks consultancy ‘Brimful Drinks’ and specialises in wine, sake and non-alcoholic drinks.

Christine has years of experience tasting and evaluating drinks, and has judged in numerous competitions including as Head of Judging for Sommelier Wine Awards, Acting Co-Chair at IWC Sake Awards and on numerous trade and consumer panels. She has won many awards including Imbibe Industry Legend, IWC Sake Contributor, IWSC Lifetime Achievement, WSET Educator of the Year, and the Wine & Spirits Ambassador Catey.

Jonathan James

Jonathan joined the Forecourt and Convenience retail sector in 2000 . Working with leading brands such as BP, Budgens and Spar the business quickly grew into an award winning retailer with the first one being the prestigious UK Forecourt Trader of the Year 2003. In 2019 Jonathan won the Retail Industry Awards Outstanding Achievement Award.Jonathan is Chairman and owner of James Convenience Retail Ltd which is one of the largest family owned convenience store operators in the UK with some 50 stores.

Jonathan is a former Chairman of the UK Association of Convenience Stores and remains a Main Board Director. Jonathan also spent 4 years on the International Committee of the National Association of Convenience Stores based in Washington DC.Jonathan is a regular contributor to the National media and a conference speaker regarding convenience retail.

Andy Cresswell

Andy has worked in the retail industry for over 30 years across businesses including Somerfield, Tesco, Midcounties Co-op, MRH fuel and Bestway. During 15 years at Midcounties he led the retail business for a number of years and then as Deputy CEO other businesses including Travel, Funeral and Pharmacies. He then developed the Retail Strategy for MRH before moving to Bestway as Chief Retail Officer where he led all their retail businesses including Bargain Booze and Wine Rack. Most recently Andy has moved to another sector where he is CEO of a dental group but has maintained an involvement in retail in his long serving role as a Director for ACS. Personally Andy is married with two teenage children and enjoys being a wine consumer as well as retailer!!

When will the entries be judged?

Judging will take place in early May 2022. A shortlist of the finalists in each category will be published online on 17th May 2022. The winners will be revealed at the IWC Awards on 7th July 2022.

For information on the IWC Merchant Awards Spain click here.