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RENEWED CONFIDENCE IN THE INTERNATIONAL SOMMELIER ASSOCIATION (France)

Re-elected along with a large part of his team, William Wouters intends to continue his work at the head of the association to give it an expanded role, ever closer to sommeliers and their needs

RENEWED CONFIDENCE IN THE INTERNATIONAL SOMMELIER ASSOCIATION (France)

Re-elected along with a large part of his team, William Wouters intends to continue his work at the head of the association to give it an expanded role, ever closer to sommeliers and their needs

Category: Europe - France - Industry economy - Events - Associations and Unions Events
Article written by Christopher Buet on 2023-10-04


William Wouters president of ASI

William Wouters, president of ASI
Photo credit © Lisa Cappellen / Association de la Sommellerie Internationale

At the end of an overheated season, summer is drawing to a close and finishing by filling the grapes with sugar, before the harvest brings in the precious fruit. The magic takes place in the shade of the cellars, sheltered by wooden barrels or stainless-steel vats as the wine slowly matures.

A strengthened team

The Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) has decided to extend this process. Three years after being elected President, William Wouters was given a new mandate at the head of the organisation this summer. “I am delighted to announce that most of the members of the board and myself have been re-elected to our posts”, he told the Journal des Palaces enthusiastically. Three new members have joined the team with the election of Slovakian Beata Vlnkova as General Secretary, Croatian Ivo Dvorak as Deputy General Secretary and Argentine Matias Prezioso as Vice President for Americas.

This renewed confidence is designed to enable the Belgian and his team to continue the work begun in the midst of the pandemic turmoil, and to give substance to their vision.

“Our mandate is to spread the message of sommellerie to the four corners of the world”

William Wouters has big ambitions for the ASI. “Our mandate is to spread the message of sommellerie to the four corners of the world”, he assures us. To achieve this, he has created a new dimension for the association. “Since we took over as the ASI Board, we have focused on transitioning our association from one focused solely on competitions, and the few who win our continental and world competitions, to one focused on supporting all sommeliers to develop and learn,” he explains.

The ASI Bootcamp is an intensive programme of courses, tutorials, and tastings designed to help sommeliers from all over the world to perfect their knowledge and become the best in their profession. After Poland and Malaysia, the third edition will be held in Ecuador, with the aim of developing the profession on every continent.

At the same time, next November, the ASI will be supervising the certification 2 exams, to recognise sommeliers who have reached the level of knowledge required to be an international sommelier. This is an essential prerequisite for obtaining the ASI diploma.

Portugal in the spotlight in 2026

Although the ASI has taken a new direction to give it greater latitude, it is not denying its former activities and will continue to organise its prestigious competitions with its expertise. After a successful 2023 edition in Paris, it is already working on the next one, scheduled in three years' time in Lisbon, Portugal. “The planning is well under way. As you can imagine, bringing competitors and delegates from all over the world and creating examinations, competitions, courses, visits and events for them is a huge undertaking, both financially and in terms of man-hours, most of which is done by volunteers. We have determined that it takes around three years of preparation to organise such an event”, explains the Belgian chairman, who told us that very precise specifications had been drawn up to provide the best possible framework for this huge organisation.

However, this complex preparation does not mean that nothing will happen between now and 2026. Quite the contrary, in fact. As a prelude to the world show-piece, three continental competitions will be held in 2024 and 2025, not forgetting those at national level for each member association.

It's a packed programme, and the ASI will be doing all it can to communicate as effectively as possible. “We are constantly working to improve our communications, marketing and other programmes. Over the past three years, we have laid the foundations for success by creating a number of tools and initiatives that form the basis of our future work. Now it's a question of fine-tuning them, promoting them and using them to best effect,” promises William Wouters. The Association de la Sommellerie Internationale has all the ingredients to succeed and deliver another excellent vintage in 2024 and for years to come.

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About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.


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