Drinks Business Awards 2015: the winners

Best Launch

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Michael Saunders of Bibendum PLB

Winner: Bibendum PLB Group for its Sake Range launch

Inspired by a niche but increasing demand for sake among London restaurants, in 2014 Bibendum launched a range of sakes with the help of Natsuki Kikuya, founder of the Museum of Sake. Bibendum’s buying team headed out to Japan along with Kikuya to source the new range, eventually settling on 15 premium sakes from four distinguished breweries. But that was just the start of the challenge, as the decision to list only top grade sake, presented both transport and storage issues due to very specific storage requirements. Bibendum had to organise for the sakes to be transported from Japan to the UK in chilled containers and then make sure that they were kept in cold storage in the warehouse so that they would arrive with customers in the best possible condition. Following this came the need for extensive staff training, as well as customer education, including a Bibendum-hosted trip to Japan for a group of customers and key influencers. The judges loved the way Bibendum had responded to a market trend, and were impressed by the results already: Bibendum has around 120 customers buying sake, of which 30% are brand new customers lured in by the sake offering.

Special commendation: Zonin 1821 for Zonin Primo Amore

Having conducted extensive research into the urban Chinese market with the help of Wine Intelligence, Zonin 1821 successfully launched Primo Amore wines specifically for consumers in Chinese Tier 1 cities, helped by marketing through a tailor-made website, social media, and POS materials.

Shortlist

• Accolade Wines for Echo Falls Fruits

• Bibendum PLB Group for The Bibendum Guide to Sake

• Zonin 1821 for Zonin Primo Amore

• W Communications for Coravin

Best Contribution to Wine and Spirits Tourism

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Giorgia Nanut of Zonin

Winner: Zonin 1821

If there was one entry this year that had all the judges keen to pack their bags and book the first available flight from London then it was the Gastronomy Experience in Puglia from Zonin 1821. Designed to draw attention to its Masseria Altemura estate in Puglia’s Salento Peninsula, Zonin has created a tour for visitors that immerses them not only in the wines of the region but also the local cuisine. With a strong educational element the judges were impressed at Zonin’s aim to highlight the distinctive wines and foods of Puglia, an area that’s not widely appreciated relative to other parts of Italy such as Tuscany or the Piedmont. As part of the experience, visitors are able to blend their own wines as well as make their own pasta, both of which they can enjoy over dinner to the sound of Salento’s typical music, called Pizzica. Since launching the full programme of events in 2014, the Masseria Altemura estate has seen a 50% boost in wine sales, and extensive publicity from food, travel and lifestyle publications. More than that, the judges applauded Zonin for its part in opening up Puglia to tourists through the wine company’s promotion of the flavours and traditions of the region.

Runner up: Stellenbosch Wine Routes

The judges were rightly impressed by the entry this year from Stellenbosch Wine Routes, which incorporates 152 wine farms across five sub-routes. Notable was the South African region’s new wine tourism visitor centre, newly-expanded social media presence and 2015 wine festival, along with its launch of the Stellenbosch Experience.

Shortlist:

• Stellenbosch Wine Routes

• Susana Balbo Wines

• Taste Hungary

• Winerist

• Zonin 1821

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