10-09-2018

Last chance to submit to the Geoffrey Roberts Award 2018

For those who may not know of it, the Geoffrey Roberts Award is one that takes on the form of a bursary granted to those who show “…a genuine commitment to New World wines or wines from Emerging Regions.” While a broad mandate, it’s much more focused than you may think and as the previous winner of the award in 2016, I can personally tell you it’s an award that carries a great deal of weight. If you are the least bit interested in being awarded what is now £8,000 (!!!) for a winning proposal, I would highly suggest entering now as the hard deadline is arriving September 30th.

Be warned, entering isn’t a simple one paragraph affair speaking in broad, general terms. My submission for what became the newest book on Georgian wines was in fact four very dense, single-spaced pages in the end so don’t think this is something you can toss together the night before. This is probably even more important advice to heed as the award has changed to every other year and they’ve doubled the bursary–I can only believe that competition will be even more fierce. By the way, my book project did happen and you can buy it now.

How to win it? I fell back upon my days in the NGO world where you have to write up grant proposals. You state a need, how you can fill it, what the desired outcomes will be (especially how it goes beyond yourself), and how you’re the person to do it. Seems pretty simply but it needs to be thought out, clear, and some well-placed testimonials to your past work are also ideal. Adding some personal investment of your own can’t hurt either. In my draft budget for the project, I stated that the award would cover book research and hiring my local coordinator but that printing and the secondary aspects of the project would be fronted by myself. This shows personal belief and commitment in the project although perhaps this isn’t financially possible for you in which case that too is an argument for your needing to be chosen that should be outlined. Essentially, you have to prove how this award is crucial to your project happening.

I need to emphasize that while my project was a book as well as the winning submission from Peter Csizmadia-Honigh, this is not specifically what they’re looking for. Options are essentially endless as long as it falls under the core mandate mentioned previously. It might even be the case that if you have a non-book project to submit, it could help you stand out.

While the respect of winning the award was very beneficial to me personally, the benefits weren’t just mine and that’s the important part. I’ve heard from winemakers I keep in touch with in Georgia that people arrive there carrying the book, so it’s greatly helped in getting the word out and making the country more easily traversed. When I see that this works, it’s extremely satisfying but beyond that, it’s helped other people as well.

First, there was my local coordinator and translator, Tamuka Araviashvili. Once we finished up working together, she applied for and was accepted to a full scholarship in an enotourism masters program that sees her studying in Europe for two years. She’s currently working the harvest in Châteauneuf du Pape and believes that working on this book project (as there is a strong enotourism aspect to it) helped her to stand out from the other applicants. She claims my glowing recommendation for her work and tolerating my grumpy persona for nearly months was what got her selected, but I would again have to take my hat off to the award and how it’s ultimately helped her achieve higher goals as well.

Then, there’s Daria Kholodilina who ended up become a co-author on the book. It didn’t start out that way but in doing the research, we eventually met up and my Editor on the project saw that it was clear she could bring an added depth in terms of food, Georgian history, and the local scene. Since the book has been released, she’s branched out from her original job with the Georgian National Tourism Agency to start being a regional consultant and local expert in all things Georgian. It’s going very well for her and if you’re headed to the region, I highly suggest you look her up.

And this is ultimately why the Geoffrey Roberts Award has become so important as it has the ability to start a ripple of growth and expansion in the sea of the wine world for those involved in a winning project. If you have a project you’ve been tossing around for some time but have needed that extra push to get it off the ground, I highly suggest you submit ASAP.