About us

Discover the Villa d'Este Wine Symposium

The Wine Davos

Concept & Philosophy

The Villa d’Este Wine Symposium (VDEWS), created by François Mauss, president and founder of the Grand Jury Européen, was born from the simple desire to create a global forum of reference for the principal actors within the world of fine wine: producers, suppliers, distributors, négociants, journalists, politicians and connoisseurs. It endeavors to be an exclusive and unique place for an international dialogue around wine.

Wine is not simply a commercial commodity, rather, it is a product infused with historical and cultural dimensions that must be protected and defended. The Villa d’Este Wine Symposium’s aim is thus to be a sort of global think-tank, an international forum, where actors from all different sectors of the global wine industry can come together to discuss, debate and defend the common social, political, economic and cultural interests of the world of fine wine.
Listen, discuss, debate, taste. The Villa d’Este Wine Symposium takes place over a three day period at the magnificent Villa d’Este on Lake Como in Italy. Seminars, discussions, and workshops lead by prominent figures in the wine industry are the backbone of the event. Participants in the first two editions (2009 and 2010) came from over 20 different countries. Simultaneous translations are available at each seminar allowing guests to participate regardless of their native language.

Exciting tastings organized around various themes, with wines ranging from some of the world’s most prestigious estates to wines from lesser-known countries, and sumptuous meals prepared by the acclaimed chefs of the Villa d’Este round out the event.

The Villa d’Este Wine Symposium provides a platform for relationships to be built and reinforced, the challenges facing the industry to be addressed and the future of wine to be discussed and debated. The global meeting place for key players of the wine industry; it is an event not to be missed.

At the beginning

François Mauss

Born in 1946 in Metz, France, François Mauss holds a bachelors degree in economics from the Universities of Strasbourg and Aix en Provence. He graduated from IUHEI in Geneva (Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales) and is the recipient of a MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts & Harvard University). Since 1984 François Mauss has simultaneously developed his two passions: fine wine and the Apple Macintosh. Always an independent contractor, Mauss was a pioneer in the development of wine-focused software, including « Bacchus & Comus » the first wine-pairing CD Rom made for the general public, various cellar management software, as well as databases on wine and gastronomy, including the CD Rom of the Bottin Gourmand.

Married to Marité Garaialde and father of 4 children, François Mauss has lived in Luxembourg since 1972. In 1996, Mauss created the Grand Jury Européen (GJE), a non-profit association founded with the aim to provide an alternative to the way fine wines are usually classified (by individual journalist’s scores). 
Four to six times annually, the Grand Jury Européen meets, and, under strict legal watch, blind tastes wines by theme. As a highly transparent and non-biased forum for scoring wines, the GJE has quickly become a global reference point for wine scores. Mauss’ approach has also allowed many connoisseurs to get to know the fine wines of Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary.

Now a wine consultant and event manager, François Mauss created, in 2009, the Villa d’Este Wine Symposium at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como (Italy). The VDEWS is a global think-tank where actors from all different sectors of the global wine industry come together to discuss, debate and defend the common historical, social, political, economic and cultural interests of the world of fine wine.

Having launched to great success in 2009, the Villa d’Este Wine Symposium is now considered the global meeting place for key players of the wine industry.

A unique place

The Villa d'Este

Champions of “l’art de vivre” or the “art of living”, the Villa d’Este, the World Wine Symposium’s home thru 2017, is the ideal setting for such an event. It’s extraordinary location on the shores of Lake Como, in one of the most beautiful districts of Italy, make it a truly incredible place to spend a few days discussing and defending the very product that drives our industry.

The Villa d’Este was built in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio. The property comprises 25 acres of gardens, whose statues and landscape have been photographed for centuries. The favourite playground of an Empress, an English queen and aristocrats, it was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1873.

Continuously renovated and updated, without sacrificing any of its old-world charm, Villa d’Este today offers 152 rooms, all different in decor but linked by the superior standards of hospitality that you expect from one of Europe’s truly legendary resorts.  
En 2013, en partenariat avec Villa d’Este, Le World Wine Symposium est devenu Villa d’Este Wine Symposium.

Rewards

Lalique Award

It has become a bit of a tradition, and particularly in the world of journalism, to make annual awards that consecrate personalities in various fields. Of course, at the top of the ladder, we have the prestigious Nobel prizes. But there are also more modest « men or women of the year » prizes bestowed by trade magazines or local newspapers. In the wine world, such annual awards have become a regular feature. One can think of the Wine Spectator, Decanter, la Revue du Vin de France, Falstaff and other specialized magazines.
The Villa d’Este Wine Symposium would like to go a step further, and also take a step aside. So we are going to award, each year, a prize to a man or woman who, of course, has been acknowledged around the world, and for many years, for the quality of his or her wines, but, who, above all, is a person of exceptional charisma and has made a major contribution to the world of wine. A sort of « Nobel of wine », with all due respect to this illustrious institution.

Great and enterprising producers who have been successful in the wine business existe in all wine countries. In this room alone, several producers fall into this category, where commercial success goes hand in hand with the highest quality. Some of those who inherit famous estates also succeed in honouring the land that they occupy until the next genration takes its turn. We recognise them too. But we needed something more.
We wanted a person who not only has succeeded in nurturing a rare level of harmony between nature and man over a long period of time, but where that harmony, that symbiosis, approches perfection.
This is a form of Holy Grail sought by all the best vignerons. It can only be attained by hard work, day by day, and year by year. But it also implies the vital obligation for the producer to pass on his knowledge and experience, together with his beliefs, to the next generation.

This is not a matter of pride and vanity. They must take the back seat. We are talking about questioning and hard graft: trying, year after year, to understand what makes a great wine. And then handing down this knowledge to future generations. Such men and women rarely make the front pages of wine magazines, even if their wines are always highly praised.

Their names are known to true wine-lovers, even if they tend to flee the limelight. In fact they tend to fly beneath the radar most of the time. These are the people that we want to honour, each year, during the Villa d’Este Wine Symposium. Maison LALIQUE and VILLA D’ESTE are associated in this Prize of Excellence which will be awarded each year during the VDEWS days at the Villa d’Este. We are very grateful to both of them.
Lalique Award 2015 : Marie-Thérèse CHAPPAZ (Switzerland)
Lalique Award 2013 : Istvan SZEPSY (Hungary)
Lalique Award 2013 : Istvan SZEPSY (Hungary)

Reward

Vinopremio Scholarship

For the sixth edition of VDEWS, Ocelle S.A created a Fund intended to grant every two years, in alternance with the Lalique Award ” The Lords of the Wine “, a scholarship/grant for a maximum 30-year-old young person having a project on wine. He will present the result of his study during the following edition of the VDEWS. This Fund will be fed by auctions of magnums offered by the Participants during gala evening.
Vinopremio Scholarship 2014 : William METZ (USA) « UAV to analyze and understand what Terroir means »

Our Godfathers

Letter from our Godfathers

"Dear François,

It has come to our attention that you plan to organize the first edition of The World Wine Symposium (“Davos of Wine”) this year at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como in Italy. With this letter we confirm our great and true interest in this event.

Infused with centuries of culture and history, the wine industry is one that is constantly changing. It stands today before a great challenge. The globalization of the wine trade, the opening of new markets and the challenges ahead are essential subjects that will affect us all. Your project embraces these fundamental issues and has the vision of turning challenges and potential difficulties into opportunities and solutions; creating a fundamental dynamic that will benefit the wine industry as a whole. These are the reasons why we hereby give you our full support.
The fact that this great event takes place in Italy, in the heart of “old” Europe, has great meaning and symbolic value.
By gathering the world’s top experts and key players of the trade at the Villa d’Este you effectively create a place where past, present and future are combined. We will aim to reach out to both tradition and innovation in order to create a new code of conduct for the global wine trade. A global plan to help us face the future strengthened and prepared.

We want to emphasize that the Villa d’Este Wine Symposium (VDEWS), will, for the first time in the history, provide an occasion for the most important producers, deciders and prescribers to meet with the goal of sharing their knowledge and passion for wine. To join forces in the fight for perfection, quality and professionalism.

We wish you great success with this magnificent project. May the Villa d’Este Wine Symposium be the yearly point of reference for world of fine wine !"

Alain Vauthier - Château Ausone
Aubert de Villaine - Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Angelo Gaja - Gaja
Egon Müller - Weingut Egon Müller
Pablo Alvarès - Vega Sicilia

Music at the VDEWS

The musicians

Maurizio Baglini
Pianist
Winner of many leading international competitions – Busoni in Bolzano, William Kapell in Maryland – in 1999, at the age of 24, he unanimously won over the jury at the World Music Piano Master of Monte Carlo.
He plays regularly at prestigious festivals worldwide – La Roque d’Anthéron, Loeckenhaus, Yokohama Piano Festival, Australian Chamber Music Festival, Festival Benedetti Michelangeli in Bergamo & Brescia, Israel Festival in Jerusalem, Festival Berlioz at the Cote St. Andre , Romantic Nights in Aix les Bains, Festival Jacques Klein in Rio de Janeiro – as well as in prestigious venues such as the Salle Gaveau, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre Auditorium, the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Sala Cecilia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, and the Gasteig in Munich.

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Nicolas Dautricourt
Violonist
Voted « ADAMI Classical Discovery of the Year » at the Midem in Cannes, Sacem « Georges Enesco » Prize, Nicolas Dautricourt is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and engaging French violinists of his generation. Invited in 2012 to join the prestigious Chamber Music Society Two of Lincoln Center in New York, he appears at major venues around the world (Washington Kennedy Center, New York Alice Tully Hall, London Wigmore Hall, Moscow Tchaikovsky Hall, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Boston Gardner Museum, Teatro Nacional de Belém, Copenhagen Concert Hall, Ongakudo Hall Kanazawa, Nagoya Shirakawa Hall, Sendai city Hall… ), in France (Salle Pleyel, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Cité de la Musique, Metz Arsenal, Musée d’Orsay, Opéra du Rhin, Grand Théâtre de Provence, etc.), and he is invited to many artistic events...

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Silvia Chiesa
Cellist
“Passionate” (Sole 24 Ore), “Convincing” (American Record Guide), “Rich in personality” (Diapason).
Cellist Silvia Chiesa has conquered public and critics thanks to a brilliant solo career that has made her one of the best loved performers of her kind, touring regularly Europe, and also China, United States, Australia, Africa and Russia.
Her wide ranging repertoire includes lesser known or unjustly forgotten music and composers. She is credited with the felicitous rediscovery of two obscure masterpieces by Nino Rota: the two Cello Concertos, which she recorded for Sony Classical with the Orchestra Nazionale Rai di Torino, conducted by Corrado Rovaris.

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