First WSET Level 4 Diploma graduation on African soil

by | Jun 27, 2022 | Article, News


The International Wine Education Centre (IWEC), one of Africa’s leading providers of the internationally-recognised Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) wine courses celebrated last week (21 June) as 9 graduates are rewarded for their efforts in completing the taxing WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines qualification.



The Graduating Class of 2021/2022 (L-R): Samarie Smith-Meletiou, Chantelle Gous, Albert Marais, Abrie du Preez, Helena Melis, Janet Rowsell, Cathy Marston (owner of the IWEC), Liz Hedley-Smith, Richard Kershaw MW (lecturer). Not present – Shon Kumar, Sam Adams.


Although the IWEC has been offering the WSET Level 4 Diploma for several years now, this is the first group of students who have actually attended lectures and tastings in person as opposed to online learning, and their success is testament to the hard work of the IWEC’s lecturing team as well as to the dedication of the new graduates.

The graduation ceremony took place on Tuesday, 21 June at Clara’s Barn on Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate.

The WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines is the flagship qualification for WSET and is widely considered to be the entry requirement for the world’s toughest wine exams – the Master of Wine.



Over the past two years students have studied modules covering viticulture and vinification, fortified wines, sparkling wines and still wines of the world.

In order to better prepare graduates for leading roles within the wine industry, there is also a strong focus on wine business with not only an entire unit dedicated to production and selling of wine around the world, but also a 3,000 word independent research paper analysing key topics of importance to global wine business.

Students must pass each unit, including wine tasting elements, in order to achieve their Diploma in Wines, with global pass rates notoriously low.


Owner of the IWEC, Cathy Marston, says “I am so proud of these students and their amazing achievement in passing this really gruelling qualification. I know full-well that they have spent late nights, early mornings, every weekend studying in order to master this qualification and despite all the challenges that Covid has thrown at them over the past two years, they have battled on and succeeded at the highest level.”

She continues: “It has been an absolute privilege and a pleasure to be able to share their journey and both I and my entire lecturing team wish them all the very best for a bright and bubbly future wherever that may lie.”

The WSET Global graduation took place in London in April and although some of the IWEC’s graduates were able to attend, it was felt that this was a good time to celebrate their success locally as well.

Sponsored by Woolworths with prizes and wines donated by leading import partners Wine Cellar, Great Domaines and Reciprocal Wine Company, the top student in each unit was rewarded for their efforts with overall honours going to Chantelle Gous, senior sommelier for Singita safari lodges.

In addition to winning local accolades, one student Shon Kumar, was also the recipient of the Taylor’s Port Prize for best performance in the fortified wine unit worldwide.


The Woolworths & Riedel Award for Top Diploma Graduate 2021/2022. Winner Chantelle Gous presented by Tshepo Mashile and Tarryn Vincent.

WSET Level 4 Diploma graduates

Abrie du Preez, Albert Marais, Chantelle Gous, Helena Melis, Janet Rowsell, Liz Hedley-Smith, Sam Adams, Samarie Smith-Meletiou and Shon Kumar

Award winners per unit

The Woolworths Top Achievement in Wine Production – Sam Adams

The Woolworths Top Achievement in Wine Business – Liz Hedley-Smith

The Wine Cellar Top Achievement in Wines of the World – Albert Marais + Janet Rowsell

The Great Domaines Top Achievement in Sparkling Wines – Chantelle Gous

The Reciprocal Top Achievement in Fortified Wines – Shon Kumar

The Woolworths Top Achievement for the Independent Research Assignment – Abrie du Preez

The Woolworths & Riedel IWEC Top Diploma Graduate 2022 – Chantelle Gous

About WSET

The WSET is the world’s leading provider of wine and spirits qualifications and is available in 19 different languages and in more than 75 countries around the globe. Although impacted by Covid, there were still more than 120,000 students who sat a WSET exam over the last 12 months alone.

The IWEC is the largest provider of WSET courses in Africa and the Middle East and teaches all levels of wine, spirits and sake courses, both in-person and online.

The next intake of the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines will take place in August 2022 and anyone interested in this prestigious and rewarding course is urged to contact the IWEC as soon as possible.

For more information please contact Cathy Marston or Andrew Shelly

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