Home News > February 2021 > The wine winners from Imbibe's last ever Personality of the Year Awards

The wine winners from Imbibe's last ever Personality of the Year Awards

There has been little to celebrate over the past twelve months in the hospitality industry but that hasn’t stopped some remarkable individuals from shining.

This time last year the best and brightest in the drinks industry gathered together at 12th Knot, Sea Containers, London, for the 10th annual Imbibe Personality of the Year Awards. Sadly, this turned out to be the last ever edition of these awards, which recognise the outstanding achievements and hard work of individuals across the industry.

Imbibe.com and Imbibe Magazine sadly closed it’s doors in December 2020. However, Imbibe Live, the UK’s best on-trade drinks exhibition, is still alive and hopeful that it will be able to deliver a show to remember on the 5-6 July 2021. You can register your interest, and keep updated with developments from the event.

As Imbibe won’t be crowning new winners this month, we thought it only right to celebrate those from 2020, find out why they won and what they’ve been up to since…


Hot Stuff

Melania Battiston, head sommelier & wine buyer, Medlar

Insta: @mela_batti

This award was aimed at spotting the up and coming talent in our industry and is always a difficult one to judge, spanning, as it does, multiple parts of the trade, and there being a wealth of young talent in the drinks industry (lucky us).

Melania comes from the world of wine, where the judges felt it can be harder to make waves and build a profile, than perhaps the world of bartending where there are more opportunities to do so. In the end however, it really came down to attitude – when things had got tough and plans had gone awry Melania’s ‘never give up’ approach shone through, something which the judges at the time said will take her even further than she has already come. Little did we know of the pandemic shaped challenge Melania was about to face… 

Since then, her inspiring attitude has seen her arrange takeaway wine options for Medlar, talk customers through wines on camera and win The Gerard Basset Tasting Trophy!


Sommelier of the Year

Elly Owen, wine director, The Old Garage

Insta: @ellywinowen
Twitter: @ellywinowen

In an industry that can be more about the drink than about the people, it was Elly’s people-first approach to her job that secured the judges’ vote. Her personality and love for all things hospitality shone through, alongside an inventive approach to inspiring people about wine. Her wine silent discos also won praise from the judges!

Throughout 2020 Elly has taken to Zoom to educate people on wine and share her passion. Not only that, she graced the front cover of the Imbibe Magazine Community Issue this summer and has recently been nominated for a Drinks Retailing Award.

Runner up and one to watch: Bert Blaise, St Leonards. Insta: @bertblaize. Twitter: @BertBlaize


Restaurant Personality of the Year

Gearoid Devaney MS & Xavier Rousset MS, co-owners, Black Book Soho (formally Trade Soho)

Insta: @gearoiddevaney, @rousset.x
Twitter: @Gearoid_Devaney, @XavierRousset

Already lauded and well respected in the industry, a gamble in 2019 to open a member’s club for hospitality professionals really paid off and the vision for this duo was to create a space for those in the industry to network, share ideas, learn and inspire others - something the judges wanted to recognise with this award.

A year on and the team have once again innovated to support the industry by launching the Trade Hospitality App. Watch this space…

Runner up and one to watch: Brodie Meah, Top Cuvée


To celebrate the 10th anniversary two new awards were added: ‘Trailblazer of the Year’ and an award celebrating ‘10 Years of Outstanding Achievement’. Find out who went home with a gong in the full article here.