Drinks Business Awards 2015: the winners

Woman of the Year

Susana Balbo

Susana Balbo

Winner: Susana Balbo

Susana Balbo has come a long way since breaking new ground over 30 years ago when she became her country’s first female winemaker. Having set up her own winery back in 1999, she has guided it through uncertain economic conditions with a determined focus on exports.

The respect of her peers is evident from the fact that she has three times been elected president of Wines of Argentina, while her business acumen has been recognised by bodies well beyond the confines of the wine industry. Among the areas she has pioneered have been the pursuit of high quality Torrontés, as well as the exploration of new wine regions and winemaking techniques. Today our winner’s efforts are supported by her two children, Ana and José, who have joined the team at Dominio del Plata to take these achievements into the next generation.


Man of the Year

db Awards 2015_HEL7966 copy

Dan Jago of Tesco with Paul Schaafsma of Accolade Wines

Winner: Paul Schaafsma

Renowned as much for his joviality as his no-bullshit approach to brand management, Paul Schaafsma has achieved an immense amount since relocating from Australia to London almost exactly 10 years ago. Arriving in the UK in 2005, he launched the European division of what was then McGuigan Simeon Wines, now Australian Vintage UK, with nothing more than his laptop. That year the company sold 100,000 nine-litre cases in the UK, but by the time he left the business in 2012, total sales had topped 7.5 million cases.

Similarly, this man’s impact was forcefully felt at Accolade Wines, which he joined in September 2012. Not only has he been responsible for the company’s increase in UK market share from 10% to 13%, but he has also revitalised the Hardys brand, with a redesign, major sponsorship of English cricket and, as a result, a sizeable rise in Hardy’s average bottle price. Indeed, he is so committed to the UK wine trade that he and his large family have taken British citizenship, although he remains one of the few Aussies to be running a major Australian wine business in the UK.

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