Alice Bown is Belgium’s New Wine Lady of the Year
Yesterday top sommelier Tom Ieven of 3-Michelin star restaurant Hof van Cleve was crowned ‘Sommelier of the Year 2020’. Noteworthy: 10 years ago, the very first title winner, Pieter Verheyde, also worked at Hof van Cleve.
We’re already on the 11th edition of this annual competition. Each year a number of professional sommeliers from each Belgian province are shortlisted, after which the public votes for their favourites. The 3 candidates with the most votes go on to the finals, where a professional jury tests them on their sommelier skills and their knowledge of food pairing, wines and matching glassware.
Since 2015 a second award is handed out during this ceremony, the one of ‘Wine Lady of the Year’. With this recognition the organisers celebrate female wine professionals, who contribute in a positive way to the image of women in the Belgian wine world.
In the previous years, the title has gone to wine educator and event planner Vicky Corbeels (2015), winemaker-in-Tuscany Virginie Saverys (2016), wine educator and manager of wine school WineWise Sybille Troubleyn (2017), to yours truly in 2018 and last year to wine journalist, teacher and all-round ‘grande dame’ of wine Simonne Wellekens.
Now the 2020 title went to an entirely different – and equally important – type of wine woman: the glorious Alice Bown! Alice is a 39-year old entrepreneur, based in Ghent. For more than 10 years now she’s been running an acclaimed communication and PR agency, specialised in wine, spirits and gastronomy. All that time, she and her (predominantly female) team have brought fabulous food and brilliant beverages to our attention – in a fun, refreshing and above all stylish way.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Alice and her crew a number of times, and I was a guest at many of their events, and each time they manage to create an imaginative and unforgettable atmosphere. Just a few weeks ago, for example, at The Dinner of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, they transformed a historical building in Ghent’s city centre into a warm, cosy and whimsical fairy-tale garden.
Not only do they regularly transport you to a different world, I’ve also met so many amazing people at Alice’s events, from all layers, nooks and crannies of the wine & dine world. Because her vibe resonates with a wide and diverse audience: from young to old, from experienced to farm-fresh, from traditional to totally out of the box.
And this fresh and imaginative approach, combined with a great eye for detail, a distinct feminine touch and a good dose of backbone and willpower, is exactly what makes Alice Bown a worthy Wine Lady of the Year. Warm congratulations to Alice and her team!