The Vintners Company – Vintners Hall

The Vintners' Geoffrey Roberts Award

Introduction

The Vintners’ Geoffrey Roberts Award is an international wine related award worth £8,000 (about $11,500) The award was initially awarded every year but in 2016 it was changed to every two years and the award amount was doubled to £8,000. The successful candidate must demonstrate to the judging panel a genuine commitment to New World wines or wines from Emerging Regions. The Award has been made since 1996 to commemorate the life and work of the late Geoffrey Roberts a pioneer importer of top quality New World wines into the UK.

About the Award

From 1996 the Award of an annual £3,000 travel bursary was given to someone who impressed upon the judges that their travels were likely to make a positive difference to the worlds of wine and/or food.  

In 2016 this was increased to £4,000 and shortly afterwards it was decided to present the award every two years which meant that the award amount was thereafter £8,000.

The Geoffrey Roberts Award has helped put wines made from ancient Carignan vines in Chile’s under-appreciated Maule region on the world map; brought farmers’ markets to Australia and then researched how they might help the economically disadvantaged; facilitated Professor Roger Corder’s book The Wine Diet; made a real difference to the lives of tsunami victims in Sri Lanka; yielded a brand new Somerset cheese, Ogleshield; helped African rural communities to help themselves; and exposed a young Georgian wine producer to modern winemaking techniques in some of France’s top properties.

The Vintners’ Company endeavours to maintain a sense of continuity by awarding a bursary to a candidate who has a proven track record of successfully furthering the cause of wines from the New World, and who proposes to use the bursary to do something practical in the promotion and development of New World wines.

Applicants can be of any age, experience or nationality. They do not have to write perfect English, but they are all expected to complete the application.  A list of Past Winners may be viewed HERE

The final decision will then be made by the panel of judges.

History

Geoffrey Roberts

Geoffrey Roberts was importing fine Australian wine into Britain as long ago as the early 1970s.  By 1980 Geoffrey Roberts Associates could boast a glamorous array of California wines from the likes of Robert Mondavi, Chalone, Sterling , Château St Jean, Château Montelena, Freemark Abbey, Trefethen and Schramsberg.  Born in 1947 his life was cut short in 1994. The Geoffrey Roberts Award commemorates his work and his lifelong interest in top quality food and wine.

Son of Cyril Roberts, distinguished soldier and lawyer and Member of Staff of the National Coal Board, Geoffrey Roberts went to Eton and was called to the Bar in 1970 but abandoned the law in favour of starting the Hungerford Wine Company in the English town of that name with Richard Jacobs. The company successfully sold wine for corporate entertaining but it was a trip to Australia and a meeting with Len Evans in the early 1970s which persuaded Roberts to risk buying an entire container of Hunter Valley wines which sold out in three months.

He soon moved to Chelsea , his natural habitat, where Geoffrey Roberts Associates’ tastings become important fixtures in the wine trade diary, attended by all of the great and the good to whom he introduced the then-radical notion that great wine was made outside Europe . He was an early member of the Zinfandel Club, founded by Harry Waugh, Hugh Johnson and John Avery MW to celebrate top quality California wine in the UK . Eventually he sold the business to Les Amis du Vin but remained as a consultant, even though this required working in an industrial park on the western fringes of London where the nearest restaurant as a Spud’U’Like – very far from his natural milieu.

He ate and traveled extensively, with no apparent ill-effects on his uncommonly good looks, and once boasted of having eaten in every three-star restaurant in France . He was also a great lover of the opera and ballet and traveled frequently to San Francisco and the south of France . He was certainly a force for good and a bon viveur, which is why his loss in 1994 was felt so keenly by his many friends and associates. (Obituary)

The Geoffrey Roberts Trust

The Geoffrey Roberts Trust was established in London, UK as a registered charity (Charity Registered Number 1066068) in 1996, thanks to generous contributions by the friends, family and associates of Geoffrey Roberts who died at the age of 46 in 1994.

The Trust’s principal activity is administration of the annual Geoffrey Roberts Award, in conjunction with The Vintners’ Company. Trustees are Neville Abraham CBE, Nicholas Lander of The Financial Times and Sally Clarke of Clarke’s restaurant in London.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS ARE:

  • Neville Abraham CBE
    Former chief executive, Groupe Chez Gerard plc
    Founder Les Amis du Vin, UK
  • Sally Clarke
    Clarke’s’ restaurant and bakery, London
  • Nicholas Lander
    Restaurant critic of The Financial Times and food service consultant
  • Venetia Lebus
    Honorary Secretary, Geoffrey Roberts Trust
  • Willie Lebus
    Director, Bibendum Wine
  • Jancis Robinson OBE, MW
    Wine writer of The Financial Times and www.jancisrobinson.com

Apply

Application criteria:

Applicants can be of any age and be based anywhere in the world (perfect English is not essential).

Application requires the candidate to submit the online form below containing their contact details together with uploading ONE document only which should be in Word or Pdf format.

Please embed any links or images into the document which should be a minimum of four and a maximum of eight sides of A4 including any appendices.

Your submission should include the following:

  • a brief biography
  • a detailed outline of the project you intend to undertake which will promote the cause of New World wines or wines from Emerging Regions to the wider industry or public
  • evidence that you have the skills and resources necessary to complete this project if your application is successful
  • an overview of what the outcome of the project will look like
  • a researched draft budget of how the award funding will be spent

Preference will be given to projects which further the cause of New World wines or wines from Emerging Regions  and are not simply a request for a travel bursary.

The Panel of Judges:

The judging panel will be comprised of 3 or 4 distinguished members of the wine trade in The Vintners’ Company

Entry Form

Complete all mandatory fields on the form below and attach your written application. Then submit the form.

Please Note: Once you have submitted this form, the page will refresh so PLEASE SCROLL back down to this section to ensure you see the confirmation message.   If there is an error message, it will be because you have not completed all required elements of the form.  Please correct and click on submit again.  

  • Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf.

Past Award Winners