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db Green Awards 2015: The winners

The winners of The Drinks Business Green Awards 2015 were announced on Tuesday evening this week at The Club at The Ivy in London.

Notable among the winners were the UK’s Vintage Roots, which picked up an award for Organic Initiative of the Year and Retailer of the Year, while South Africa’s Backsberg Estate Cellars won the Amorim Sustainability Award, while its pioneering owner, Michael Back, was also given a Green Lifetime Achievement Award.

The winners this year highlighted that it’s no longer enough to focus on greening just one area of a business, and those companies which did well had considered the sustainable nature of all aspects of their operations – whether that’s energy use and generation, water use, waste treatment, recycling rates, transport types, packaging weights and, importantly, how they actually benefit their surroundings, socially and environmentally.

Promoting the winners in these awards is a pleasure for us, but also important for the industry – we need green leaders to encourage others to follow in their sustainable footsteps.

Over the following pages are the winners of the db Green Awards 2015 and a full report on the event will appear in the May edition of the drinks business.

In the meantime, db would like to thank its sponsors Amorim and CarbonZero Consulting for their support, as well as the suppliers of drinks for the awards event on Tuesday evening at The Ivy Club in London, which were:

Ty Nant for the water

Carbotek for the organic beer

Case Paolin for the Asolo organic Prosecco

Torres for the Habitat organic wines

Domaine Bousquet for the organic Malbec

Logistics and Supply Chain Green Initiative of the Year

Winner: Encirc

The stand-out entry in this category for 2015 came from glass manufacturer, bottler and logisitics specialist Encirc. In a sector that inevitably leaves a bigger environmental footprint than other corners of the drinks industry, Encirc has nevertheless made impressive progress to minimising its impact. As part of an on-going programme, the last 12 months have seen the company modify its warehouses, consolidate deliveries to remove lorries from the road, dramatically cut packaging and bring in raw materials by rail. Even better, Encirc is about to complete work on a new rail siding that will further slash its HGV use both for incoming materials and bulk transportation of outgoing wine and beer.




STI Internazionale


Best Green Launch of the Year

Winner: Amorim & Irmaos – Helix

In a close fought contest, Amorim’s Helix won through thanks to its real wow factor. First unveiled to the trade in 2013, last year saw this twist-open natural cork closure pick up considerable momentum among producers, bringing it to the shelves of major retailers such as Trader Joe’s in the US and German supermarket giant Edeka. With several of these producers boasting a strong environmental ethos, Helix’s appeal lies in its ability to match the screwcap for convenience, while boasting all the sustainability credentials of natural cork. As this striking piece of innovation picks up commercial momentum, judges were keen to reward this exciting, appealing addition to the closures scene.

Runner up: Concha y ToroSunrise

This 2014 relaunch of Sunrise as Concha y Toro’s first carbon neutral brand represents a major statement from the Chilean giant. Achieved by using a combination of lightweight and recycled glass, this carbon neutral status is complemented by Sunrise’s partnerships with Chilean wildlife projects, making it a compelling option for consumers in search of an environmentally friendly wine choice.


Amorim & Irmaos – Helix

Anthonij Rupert Wyne – Protea

Lewis Moberly – The Snow Grouse

Viña Concha y Toro – Sunrise

Organic Initiative of the Year

Winner: Vintage Roots for Hoopoe Organic Wines

Among the organic wine launches in the past 12 months Hoopoe Organic Wines stood out for its good value, juicy fruit wine and pretty, striking packaging. Called Hoopoe, the project was inspired by the brightly-coloured bird often spotted in the organic vineyards of the Mediterranean.

The initial range comprisesChardonnay/Grillo along with a Pinot Grigio/Cataratto blend for the whites, and a Nero d’Avola and a Merlot for the reds. Although the brand was first unveiled in 2013, in the last year the packaging was completely re-designed by Barlow Doherty to give it a more modern look, as well as more informative back label. The judges were especially impressed by Vintage Roots ability to create such an attractive organic-only wine brand priced under £10.

Special commendation: Cuma Organic

This Argentine initiative was deemed worthy of a special commendation for a particularly natural approach to viticulture. Cuma, meaning “pure and clean” in the language of the country’s Aymará ancestors, is not only organic, but also Fairtrade, with a praiseworthy emphasis on incorporating local people in its production.


Vintage Roots for Hoopoe Organic Wines

Cuma Organic

Araex for Rolland Galarreta Organic

The CarbonZero Consulting Renewable Energy Implementation Award

Winner: Bodegas Torres

This year one business, despite the stiff competition, stood out for its innovative and ecologically-minded approach to energy production, focused on the use of biomass from its vineyards, as well as sun and wind at its wineries in Spain, California and Chile. Across all its production sites, Torres is totally committed to reducing energy use, but also ensuring its needs are generated sustainably, as part of a company programme called Torres & Earth, which has seen the wine producer invest over €10 million in renewable technologies and research since 2007. Highlights include the installation of solar photovoltaic panels at its Marimar Estate in California in November last year, which now generate 100% of the winery’s power needs, and the largest biomass boiler in the Spanish wine industry at the Torres Pacs de Penedes winery, allowing the producer to reduce its gas consumption by 85% through burning vine clippings from the nearby Torres vineyards.

Runner-up: Jackson Family Wines

The judges chose to award a runner-up award to Jackson Family Wines, such was this one company’s impressive uptake of solar energy to provide 50% of its energy needs in California, including a hi-tech approach to storing electricity for use at peak times.

Special commendation: Principi di Porcia

Finally, we decided to award a special commendation to Italian wine business Principi di Porcia for its innovative and comprehensive approach to energy production – it uses solar, bio-gas and hydro-electricity to generate all its power needs.


Bodegas Torres

Wye Valley Brewery

Viña Maquis

Principi di Porcia e Brugnera

Bodegas Torres

Jackson Family Wines

This award was presented in association with CarbonZero Consulting.

John Findlay MSc CEng, managing director of Carbon Zero Consulting, who formed part of the independent panel of sustainability and drinks industry experts responsible for judging, was delighted by this year’s quality of entries. John was particularly impressed by the overall dedication Bodegas Torres showed to reducing their carbon emissions and adopting a number of different methods to achieve this.

Findlay commented, “We’re thrilled to have been involved with this year’s Drinks Business Green Awards and delighted to have our own category. The level of entries was high and overall it was pleasing to note that implementation of alternative sources of heat, cooling and power are being adopted by some companies in the drinks sector. However, we felt that Bodegas Torres is a particularly worthy winner due to the fact that they had not only witnessed a change in climate, but acted upon it in a very rounded way to install renewable heating and power systems across the business internationally. One point which deserves special mention, is their innovative approach of using vine clippings and waste to run a biomass boiler resulting in a 85% reduction in their gas consumption at Pacs de Penedes.

He continued, “With the evidence for climate change and its potentially devastating consequences continuing to build, there is a growing need to bring renewable technologies, such as Ground Source Heating and Cooling to the table and to recognise companies in the drinks industry that are already addressing these issues. We are delighted to have supported this cause and call for more companies to consider alternative forms of renewable energies to sustain their businesses in the long term.”

The Amorim Sustainability Award for Spirits

Winner: Chivas Brothers

This year’s winner went to an operation which has proved that it is truly green through comprehensive analysis – Chivas Brothers. Notable developments in the past 12 months include the switch from heavy fuel oil to gas power for its distilleries – reducing carbon emissions by 10,893 tonnes per annum (equivalent to two medium-sized malt distilleries) – as well as increasing its waste recovery rate over the last eight years, passing the 90% recovery milestone in 2012 and rising to 93% in 2013-14. The company has also move to electric power for 10 of its cars, improving the average fuel efficiency of fleet vehicles by 86% from 43mpg to 80mpg. These, and many more examples, with the figures to prove the beneficial impact, made Chivas Brothers a worthy winner.

Runner-up: The Bombay Sapphire Distillery

The judges also decided to recognize Bombay Sapphire as a runner up for its focus on renewable energy sourcing, and sensitive redevelopment of its historic gin distillery in Hampshire.

Special commendation: Chase Distillery

The judges also decided to recognise one business with a special commendation for its efforts to significantly improve the green credentials of a British vodka distillery.


Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Chivas Brothers

Chase Distillery

This award was presented in association with Amorim.

The Amorim Sustainability Award for Wine

Winner: Backsberg Estate Cellars

Although there were plenty of impressive entries for this category, one company was declared an outright winner by the judges. With an approach to all operations that is both environmentally sensitive and ethical, this biodynamic South African winery wowed the panel for its carbon neutrality, and innovative solutions to energy use – its even planning to fuel its cars with prickly pears.

Its intense focus on becoming as sustainable as possible began 10 years ago spearheaded by Backsberg’s owner and manager, Michael Back. Since then, the farm, which is located against the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain Range, has become the first Carbon Neutral winery in South Africa and the third in the world.


Backsberg Estate Cellars

Pernod Ricard Winemakers New Zealand

La Motte Wine Estate

Araex Rioja Alavesa

This award was presented in association with Amorim.

Ethical Company of the Year

Winner: Santa Rita Estates

Despite its large scale, South America’s Santa Rita Estates greatly impressed the judges for its ethical and sustainable approach to all aspects of its operations. Not only did this business display a genuinely responsible approach towards its workers, but also the wider community, with initiatives such as classical music concerts for underprivileged children and a native tree planting project in its key wine region, the Maipo Valley.

Runner-up: Bosman Family Vineyards

The judges decided to name a runner-up to South Africa’s Bosman Family Vineyards for its genuine desire to care for its employees, and a dedication to its local town, while also implementing the largest Land Reform Transaction in the wine industry in 2008.

Special commendation: Napa Valley Vintners

This was a particularly hotly contested category, and the judges decided to award a special commendation to this Californian organization for demonstrating almost half a century of commitment to its local environment and community, creating the Napa Green Certified Land program in 2004 to protect wildlands, and launching Napa Green in 2008, which last year saved more than 3.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Napa Valley Vintners have also invested over US$145 million since 1981 to Napa County nonprofit organizations that support community health and children’s education.


Symington Family Estates

Santa Rita Estates

Napa Valley Vintners

Bosman Family Vineyards

The Co-operative

Green Company of the Year

Winner: Phillips Brewing Co

Tucked away at the southern end of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Phillips Brewery made a powerful impact on judges. This comprehensive entry revealed a company that conveys its deep-rooted environmentally friendly approach with infectious – but far from sanctimonious – enthusiasm. As part of an impressive waste reduction programme, Phillips has taken the step of designing its own CO₂ reclamation system, a pioneering example for smaller breweries. With green initiatives in place across every element of this company’s production and packaging operations, Phillips’ communication also carries a strong environmental accent. Its Benefit Brew project and sponsorship tie-ins point to a positive impact that reaches well beyond the brewery walls.

Runner up: Viña Concha y Toro

This major global player keeps the environmental bar high with its ongoing programme of initiatives that filter down from the very top. A particularly striking development this year is the opening of Concha y Toro’s Centre for Research & Innovation, whose work promises to address some key environmental challenges for Chilean viticulture.



Ian Macleod Distillers

Jackson Family Wines

La Motte

Phillips Brewing Co

Viña Concha y Toro

The judges were also very keen for mention to be made of two other companies in a category with many entries. Bollinger may not have done quite enough to make the shortlist but their efforts represent a trailblazing effort for Champagne, not a region widely associated with green initiatives.

Also, the judges were very excited by Gonzalez Byass’ comprehensive, ambitious new “5+5 Caring for the Planet” programme and look forward to seeing how this solid framework delivers tangible results in future.

Green Retailer of the Year

Winner: Vintage Roots

As the only UK company to import and retail exclusively organic wines and other drinks, Vintage Roots entire business model is built on environmental concerns. Three decades after they established the business, co-founders Neil Palmer and Lance Pigott continue to fly the flag for high quality organic, biodynamic, natural and ethically produced wines from around the world, not to mention quirkier offerings such as organic cachaça, a seaweed gin and the imminent arrival of their first organic Tequila. This focus has also seen Vintage Roots develop own brand ranges such as Wild Thing, which sees a donation to conservation charity The Born Free Foundation for every bottle sold. As well as celebrating the sustainability efforts of its producers, Vintage Roots sets strict standards for its own business. Since 2005 the office has been powered by 100% renewable energy and in 2006 the company became the first in the UK to offset the carbon footprint of all its wine and beer imports. Last year saw the introduction of a “Vine to Lips” logo, designed to communicate the carbon commitment of a firm that sets the standard for green retail.

Green Personality of the Year

Winner: Mike Benziger, Benziger Family Winery

The model of sustainability represented by Sonoma’s Benziger Family Winery is largely the result of one man’s vision and contagious energy. As part of his desire to ensure a healthy legacy for future generations, Mike began converting the family estate to biodynamics in the mid-90s. Today the estate is a haven of biodiversity and offers a training ground for other producers to improve their environmental footprint, with Mike hosting an annual “Hot Topics” seminar to encourage sustainable practice in the vineyard. His commitment to this cause has extended to investment in transformative technology such as NDVI mapping, soil moisture probes and weather monitoring stations. Together these systems have enabled Benziger to address California’s severe water shortage by converting some of its vineyard blocks to dry farming. Since 2007 the producer has implemented a third-party certification programme that offers incentives for its growers to adopt sustainable practices. To-date this initiative covers around 4,000 acres across Sonoma County and offers a prime example of Mike’s determination to raise not just his own standards but those of the entire industry.

Green Lifetime Achievement Award

Michael Back was given a Green Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering environmental work in South Africa

Winner: Michael Back from Backsberg Estate Cellars

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to a person who has energetically championed green initiatives in the South African wine industry, while pioneering innovative, and environmentally-minded projects at his own family business in the Western Cape – Backsberg Estate Cellars. As the third generation owner of a winery, Michael Back has spent the last 10 years repositioning his business as the greenest in South Africa, and possibly the world, adopting established and experimental techniques to reduce its inputs and impacts. Consequently, he has turned the operation into the Cape’s first carbon neutral winery, while he has also made it the country’s first user of PET packaging, having employed the lightweight material for a new wine range called “Tread Lightly”. More niche, but nonetheless unique to the business, are the use of prickly pears as a source of power and insect protein as a source of animal feed. Within the next five years, Michael – helped by his son Simon who joined the business in 2008 – assures db that the energy needs of the winery will be generated entirely within the farm.

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