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Sydney Wine Academy

Sydney Wine Academy Students Shine at WSET Exams

John MacKinnon, Executive Sommelier at Shangri-La Hotels, Sydney, and Joel Beerden, a freelance writer, have received recognition for their exceptional WSET examination results in the last academic year.

MacKinnon, who completed the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits, won the Fine Wine Partners (FWP) Scholarship and will receive a $1,000 grant towards further wine studies and $1,000 towards a cellar from FWP’s portfolio, as well as an engraved Spiegelau decanter. MacKinnon said he was “honoured and humbled in receiving this award”.

John MacKinnon

John MacKinnon

Resident Manager of Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, Milan Drager, said, “We are delighted, but not surprised, to hear that John has done so incredibly well in the WSET Level 4 Diploma. John has impeccable knowledge and a passion for wine. His ability to create the perfect wine pairing has greatly enhanced the dining experience for our guests at Altitude, our signature restaurant.”

Beerden completed the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits and won the Laithwaite’s Scholarship, which includes a travel grant of £700 (AU$1450) to study a wine and/or spirit producing region.

Joel Beerden

Joel Beerden

Both students studied with Clive Hartley at TAFE Sydney Wine Academy, who said: “I’m delighted that both John and Joel have won WSET prizes this year. Our students are extremely passionate about wine and spirits. I’m sure both prizes and study grants will be put to great use!”

WSET is the world’s largest provider of wine and spirit education, offering qualifications to trade professionals and enthusiastic consumers. Sydney Wine Academy is one of 23 approved programme providers who offer WSET courses in Australia. For a full list of WSET course providers in Australia visit

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