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Cateys 2016: Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award

08 July 2016
Cateys 2016: Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award

Sponsored by The Balvenie

Ronan Sayburn

Currently head of wines for the private members' club 67 Pall Mall, Ronan Sayburn leads a team of outstanding sommeliers. As well as having helped create a unique club for wine-lovers around the world, Sayburn will be using the club as a centre for mentoring and training new talent within the hospitality industry.

But his impact on the wine industry is much broader than his recent efforts, and he is responsible for many careers across the industry since he began his own wine journey 20 years ago. His passion for sharing knowledge, his dedication to mentoring and training upcoming talent, and the hard work he has put over the years, certainly deserve further recognition.

Having started his career as an assistant head sommelier for Raymond Blanc, Sayburn went to work as head sommelier for other prestigious establishments, including the two-Michelin-starred Pied à Terre, and Gordon Ramsay's three-star Royal Hospital Road.

It was during this busy period that Sayburn achieved one of the greatest qualifications in his field, becoming a Master Sommelier in 2005. He is one of only 230 people that have passed the very demanding four levels of the Court of Master Sommeliers' programme in its 40-year existence.

More recently, he worked as wine and spirit director for the boutique hotel chain, Hotel du Vin, where he focused on the constant training of the 40-plus sommelier team.

This was followed by his work as head of wines for the Dorchester Collection, where he managed the wine teams and wine lists for the various restaurants (including the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Wolfgang Puck's Cut restaurants) and bars of the group.

Having been a board member for the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe for many years, in July 2014 Sayburn was made chief operations officer for the Court. As part of his remit, he is responsible for making sure that the Court's aim of encouraging high standards of beverage service in hotels and restaurants via education is fulfilled.

Sayburn is also a previous winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year competition and was twice a representative for the UK in the European Sommelier Competition.

Not only does he compete but he also contributes to competitions by offering his expert services as a judge. He is a regular judge at the Sommelier of the Year competition and judges on various tasting competitions (including the Decanter World Wine Awards) and is an examiner for the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Moreover, Sayburn is an extremely approachable character in the wine world, always available to help anyone with an interest in learning and progressing in the field and the wider hospitality industry.

What the judges said

"An outstanding person who has set London alight with 67 Pall Mall - the private members' club that all sommeliers dream of."

Roger Jones

"A most consistent and quality candidate."

Sue Williams

The shortlist

  • Craig Bancroft, Northcote, Langho, Lancashire
  • Matthieu Longuere, Le Cordon Bleu, London
  • Ronan Sayburn, 67 Pall Mall, London

The judges

  • Xavier Rousset, Wine consultant and founder, Blandford Comptoir, London
  • Roger Jones, Owner, the Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Marlborough
  • Marc Verstringhe, Chairman, MESV Trust
  • Sue Williams, General manager, Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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