Decanter’s Beth Willard Declares Rioja One to Watch in 2024

Willard joins Decanter’s World Wine Awards as Co-Chair

In the world of wine, we often find ourselves in the company of remarkable individuals who shape the industry’s landscape. Today, we celebrate Beth Willard, a distinguished figure in the wine world, as she marks her 10th year as a judge at the DWWA (Decanter World Wine Awards). Her journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, and her contributions have left an indelible mark on the global wine community.

A Decade of Dedication

Beth Willard’s journey as a DWWA judge has been a decade-long odyssey, marked by dedication and excellence. She has not only been a judge but has also held pivotal roles, including being the regional chair for North, Central & Eastern Europe and Spain. Her extensive experience in sourcing quality wines across the globe, spanning the UK, US, and Australian markets, reflects her profound understanding of the wine industry.

A Global Perspective

Born in Australia, Beth Willard’s wine career began in Canberra. However, her love for languages and travel propelled her on a journey across the world, where she worked with renowned companies like Syndicat des Vins de Bordeaux and Direct Wines (Laithwaites). While she has spent most of her career in the Northern Hemisphere, her Australian roots remain close to her heart, especially her passion for cricket.

Beth’s dedication to wine has earned her a place in the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, showcasing her commitment to Spanish wine culture. She now plans to spend more time in Spain, aligning herself with emerging trends and contributing to the future success of growers and winemakers in the region.

Beth Willard Wine Tasting
Image Courtesy of Decanter

A Vision for Rioja and Beyond

In her role as a wine professional, Beth Willard has identified Rioja as one of the wine-producing regions to watch in 2024. While acknowledging Rioja’s well-deserved notoriety, she hopes to see it gain more attention for its superb vineyard-focused wines. Rioja, she believes, is the source of some of the finest wines globally, offering the rare combination of immediate pleasure and exceptional aging potential.

However, Beth’s enthusiasm extends beyond Spain. She eagerly anticipates tasting new wines and vintages from regions she hasn’t explored in a while, including Argentina, South Africa, and Hungary. For her, the DWWA serves as an invaluable platform to stay updated on emerging trends and discover new producers.

Embracing Diversity and Excellence

Beth Willard’s tenure as a DWWA Co-Chair comes at a significant juncture in the competition’s history. It marks the first time in 21 years that five Co-Chairs will oversee the event. This expansion reflects the competition’s continued growth, with record-breaking entries year after year.

As industry professionals, we understand that the credibility of judging is paramount, and Beth’s appointment ensures that this standard is upheld. Her expertise, commercial acumen, and experience as a buyer consultant bring a unique perspective to the Co-Chair team, contributing to the competition’s integrity.

Beth Willard and Colleagues
Image Courtesy of Decanter

A Collaborative Spirit

Beth Willard’s journey is not just about exceptional wines; it’s also about the connections she forges with fellow judges from around the world. The DWWA provides a platform for industry professionals to come together, exchange ideas, and explore emerging trends. It’s a celebration of expertise, enthusiasm, and passion for wine.

Beth Willard’s advice to aspiring wine professionals is rooted in a profound love for the industry. Taste widely, explore, find your passion, and approach it with authenticity. Above all, listen to the stories that wine and its people have to tell, for they are the threads that weave the rich tapestry of the wine world.

Beth Willard’s journey is a testament to the boundless possibilities within the wine industry, where dedication, curiosity, and a love for wine can lead to extraordinary experiences and contributions.

We raise our glasses to Beth and look forward to the continued impact she will make in the world of wine. Cheers!