How The World's Largest Wine Competition Was Made Possible During A Pandemic

Posted: Oct 07, 2020

During a pandemic – with social distancing regulations, uncertainty, anxiety and the continual possibility of change – planning and holding the world’s largest wine competition safely and successfully was a monstrous task. But the process of achieving it called for innovative thinking; the results give the wine world a positive story to tell, and offer a potential role-model for future industry events.

Normally held at London’s ExCel exhibition centre – turned into a hospital at the height of lockdown in the UK – the DWWA judging was relocated across three floors of the Decanter offices in Canary Wharf, ensuring absolute control of a safe environment for judging.

‘Agility was key as we worked through a number of backup plans simultaneously,’ says Victoria Stanage, Decanter’s head of events & awards. ‘With the daunting prospect of another lockdown looming in the background, planning ahead relied on a lot of speculation and assumption of what was to come, especially when it came to travel and gatherings.’

Securing a space to allow for social distancing, while maintaining the environment necessary to adhere to the standards and integrity of the competition, was just part of the planning process. Ensuring complete safety of the judges, employees and those involved in the running of the awards was priority.

On this, DWWA Co-Chair Andrew Jefford says: ‘I can guarantee that tasting now, here in this building, it’s the safest place you can be in London, and that really speaks a lot for the organisational abilities of the team working behind it.’

By Olivia Mason
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