The Drinks Business Green Awards 2019 winners
This year’s Green Awards ceremony was special, as it marked our 10-year milestone of singling out and celebrating green achievements in drinks. Taking place in the elegant surroundings of The Club at The Ivy in Covent Garden, our winners were awarded at a packed-out ceremony last night, and toasted with flutes of Chilean eco pioneer Emiliana’s organic fizz.
While judging the awards, we discovered that South Africa has emerged as a pioneer in the promotion of biodiversity in vineyards; and brewers, distillers and cider makers in the UK are collectively doing their bit to lessen their impact on the environment, from dramatically reducing their water usage and turning apple pulp into fertiliser, to developing the world’s most sustainable bottling facility.
The results were announced to all shortlisted entrants in this year’s Green Awards, along with key players in the wine and spirits trade, and a collection of past winners in the awards, which have been held each year since 2010.
Our awards are still the only set of industry gongs dedicated exclusively to green-thinking drinks companies. While it’s a great position for us to be in, it’s surprising, as sustainability is the hot topic of our time and being green is finally seen as sexy.
Our annual awards celebrate the eco-conscious and ethical, and in doing so, draw attention to green leaders in the hope that it will encourage others to follow in their sustainable footsteps and improve the overall image of wines, beers and spirits.
Today, if you’re going to be truly sustainable, you must consider all aspects of your operations – whether that’s energy use, waste treatment, recycling rates, transport type, packaging weight or how you benefit your surroundings, socially and environmentally.
In terms of packaging, drinks already have a head start, because wines and spirits generally use glass, which is both inert and easily recycled.
We also use cork, which may not be perfect, but is a natural, biodegradable material that supports diverse ecosystems and skilled agricultural labourers in poor and sparsely populated parts of southwestern Europe. However, in wine production specifically, we use large amounts of water, and potentially damaging environmental inputs in the form of fungicides, pesticides and weed-killers.
Reducing water use and fungicide applications is a must, while, thanks to advances in soil-management techniques, it is now unacceptable for any winegrowing business to apply poisonous chemicals to ground-cover plants.
Businesses, whatever the drinks sector, need to find ways to be sustainable from an economic as well as an environmental perspective. With importers, distributors, retailers and consumers increasingly demanding ethically-sourced products that do as little as possible to pollute their environs, producers in all sectors of the drinks industry must improve their green credentials to survive in the long term.
Before we celebrate the green trailblazers in the business, we would like to thank our judges in 2019’s awards, along with our lead sponsor, Amorim, for its continued support of the sustainability and biodiversity awards, and the provision of cork-framed certificates for all our winners.
We are also extremely grateful to Ty Nant for the Welsh spring water, Gerard Bertrand for Château la Sauvageonne La Villa 2018; Jackson Family Wines for Yangarra Estate Old Vine Grenache and Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay; and Emiliana for its organic fizz.
Click through for our full list of winners from last night’s event.
Ethical Company of the Year – Symington Family Estates
This summer Symington Family Estates joined companies as diverse as Patagonia, Innocent Drinks and Kickstarter in becoming a ‘B Corporation’. The certification is rigorous, assessing a firm’s social, environmental and ethical business practices and obliges the company directors to make social and environmental goals an equal priority alongside financial ones. The B Corp certification cements a large number of varied social and ecological projects that the Symingtons have put in place recently and are continuing to pursue.
This year alone they have put in place no fewer than 16 projects from launching a new scholarship programme at UTAD university in the Douro for disadvantaged students, donating an ambulance (making a total of 11 now) to the volunteer fire service, forming partnerships with Rewilding Portugal and The Ocean Clean-up Project, capturing the CO2 produced during fermentation, reducing copper use in their vineyards and working on Portugal’s first LEED winery, due to open in 2021.
The company has also measured its carbon footprint and made efforts to cut it, achieving a 23% reduction in per bottle CO2 emissions since 2015. The Symingtons have also launched ‘Mission 2025’, with the ultimate aim of reducing its carbon footprint further and going carbon neutral.
Commendation – Santa Rita Estates
The judges wanted to commend Santa Rita Estates in particular for its work on social responsibility, which spans the health and education of its workers – including free medical care and scholarships for employees and their children – teaching children about the value of biodiversity and providing concerts and musical programmes.
Santa Rita Estates
Flor de Caña
Symington Family Estates
Green Retailer of the Year – Marks & Spencer
The judges were impressed by the results M&S has achieved through its ‘Plan A’ project. Launched in 2007, this year the firm’s net emissions were 158,000 tonnes of CO2 – a reduction of 75% from the time the programme began – putting it on track to achieve its goal of an 80% reduction by 2030. In the wine department, M&S has cut its carbon footprint by shipping more of its entry-level wines in bulk and light-weighting bottles.
In particular, by working together with Italian glass companies, it has managed to create a lighter weight but still safe bottle for Prosecco, which has been used for its Conti Priuli Prosecco, shaving 100g off each bottle and reducing its carbon footprint by 1.2 million kilograms of CO2 a year. Another key Prosecco brand was moved over to these new bottles in December 2019.
M&S is also moving to make all its packaging ‘widely recycled’ by 2022, and in the last year has removed 1,000 tonnes of single use plastic packaging with plans to remove another 1,000 in the coming year. A further 1,700 tonnes of black plastic have been removed and none will be used by the end of 2020.
Commendation – Honest Grapes
Clear goals, a drastic reduction (98%) in plastic use, increasing its range with wines from sustainable producers and direct sourcing were all strong positives that the judges picked out in Honest Grapes’ pitch. The company is aiming to be 100% plastic free by April 2020, any new growers added to the portfolio will have to be sustainable and it is endeavouring to provide feedback to its producers about its initiatives as it already does for its customers.
Marks & Spencer
Logistics and Supply Chain Green Initiative of the Year – Accolade Wines
The judges were unanimous in their choice of Accolade as this year’s winner of the Logistics and Supply Chain Initiative category. With transport being the UK’s largest contribution to CO2 emissions (26%), and with a shortage of over 150,000 truck drivers predicted for 2020, Accolade has worked around these problems by focusing on more efficient ways of moving goods around the country.
Starting in late 2018, Accolade teamed up with Tesco and WEPA to combine deliveries and maximise lorry capacities and ensure they do not drive around empty. Although a complex and time-consuming task that required Accolade and WEPA to immerse themselves in the operations of the other, upgrading Tesco’s systems and even making infrastructure changes at Accolade Park, since its implementation in March 2019, the programme has reduced the number of trucks on the road by 208, with an annual saving of 53 tonnes of CO2 and cost saving of £80,000.
The plan now is to take 780 trucks off the road, saving 200 tonnes of CO2 and £300,000 a year. As the judges said, this is, “innovative, tackling complex supply chain issues through collaboration and with a solution that is scalable.”
Water Management in Wine Award – RedHeads Wine
In a challenging environment RedHeads Wine has responded to the tests forced upon it with ideas that are forward-thinking and effective. The average monthly rainfall in Angaston, Australia, is just 20mm and there was no ‘meaningful’ rain between December 2018 and May 2019, during which time the temperature reached over 45°C on some days.
Water collection, reducing waste water and water recycling are key focus areas RedHeads has worked towards, capturing all of the water from its winery roof and dam, collecting 2.7 million litres of extra water that can be reused around the winery, while the dam with a storage capacity of 3.8 megalitres is used to supply water for irrigation. All of which, in addition to a new eco-friendly winery, helped convince the judges that though RedHeads by name they were indeed ‘greenheads’ in nature.
Water Management in Beer Award – Small Beer Brew Co.
The joint winner of this year’s Water Management Award was Small Beer Brew Co, which, since its founding in 2017, has worked to reduce waste in its brewery. The site has been engineered to be ‘dry’, saving hundreds of litres of water and making a safer and more hygienic environment without the need for constant washing and the use of harsh chemicals.
Through better and cleverer use of water, the brewery has been able to save 6.56 litres of H2O for every litre of beer brewed, a saving of over a million litres of water in the past year. Small Beer also has a pledge to improve its water conservation every six months in a bid to tackle the ‘bad habits’ of the industry.
Organic Initiative of the Year – Tenute Lunelli
Our winner is an example of the very simple idea that being organic doesn’t mean you can’t use up-to-date technology – far from it. Tenute Lunelli owns and runs three wineries across Italy, in Trentodoc, Umbria and Tuscany.As well as practicing organic farming at all three locations, banning chemical sprays and fertilisers and promoting traditional practices, the company has also pursued the ‘Biodiversity Friend’ certification, awarded by the Worldwide Biodiversity Association.
Innovation and modern scientific techniques have been employed to support and sustain these practices and help develop framing that works in harmony with the cycles and rhythms of nature. Tenute Lunelli has adopted the ‘Animavitis’ wine management programme, which creates vigour maps allowing for targeted technical strategies in each and every plot and with it a more holistic approach to farming and treatment; perfectly combining organics, tradition and innovation.
Green Launch of the Year – Avallen Spirits
Seeking not only to reduce the harm it does to the environment, as part of its #BeePositive campaign, Calvados producer Avallen wants to “actively have a positive impact” through biodiversity and donates a proportion from every bottle of Calvados it sells to organisations working to protect and restore bee populations, such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in the UK.
To produce its Calvados, Avallen works with over 40 different varieties of apple sourced from 300 local farmers within close proximity to its distillery in Normandy. Keen to close the production loop, apple pulp from the production process is re-used as cattle feed and fertiliser. The liquid itself has no added sugar or caramel.
On the packaging front, Avallen Calvados is housed in a lightweight bottle finished with a no plastic shrink wrap seal, and boasts a label made from paper crafted from apple pulp and printed with natural inks. Even company business cards are printed on wildflower seed paper. Our judges praised Avallen’s bold ambition to bring an old fashioned product into the 21st century through fun, innovative, eco-friendly packaging.
Commendation – The Wine People for Purato
Having been on the scene for a decade, our judges were impressed with the relaunch of The Wine People’s Purato brand in order to better highlight its green credentials. Describing the brand as “green in the extreme”, the wines in the Purato range are sustainably made at every stage of the production process.
The four pillars of the Purato re-launch were to communicate the brand’s green status in being certified organic, vegan friendly, carbon neutral, and boasting packaging made with recycled materials. Believing organics is “the only way forward” for winemaking, the company uses its carbon credits to aid the conservation of the Amazon rainforest. Our judges liked the fact that Purato was “getting the green job done in an unflashy way”.
The Wine People for Purato
Altia Spirits (Kroskenkorva Vodka)
Bonterra Organic Vineyards
Green Company of the Year – Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Our runner up last year, this year Pernod Ricard Winemakers scooped the top gong with their impressive entry, which demonstrated that its green initiatives are being implemented across all areas of the company, down to individual employees.
With wine brands spanning Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the US, including Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo, the wine giant demonstrated its green credentials in all four nations. Just last month the firm moved to 100% renewable electricity in Australia – the first wine company of its size in the country to do so. While in New Zealand Pernod helped to restore over 10 hectares of native wetlands in Marlborough, where over 10,000 plants now thrive.
Across the pond at Kenwood Vineyards in Sonoma, the winey has donated over $100,000 towards reforestation efforts after 2017’s devastating wildfires in California, and in Europe, Campo Viejo was the first winery in Spain to obtain the Wineries for Climate Protection certificate.
Another key initiative that impressed our judges was a company-wide banning of plastic straws and a move towards the use of lightweight glass in Australia and New Zealand, which has reduced Pernod’s carbon emissions associated with glass by 30%. Our judges felt the entry offered “the best of both worlds” – local thinking with a global reach.
Runner-up – Concha y Toro
Our runner up was an early adopter of green practices, and was the first winery in Chile to measure its carbon footprint in 2007, and water footprint in 2010. Seeking to “give back in each bottle,” Concha y Toro has reduced its direct carbon emissions by 20% since 2014, and emissions relating to packaging by 22% since 2011.
Our judges said it was “good to see these measurable changes” within such a big company. By shipping a large number of its wines in bulk to the UK and bottling them in the northeast of England, the Chilean wine giant has reduced its carbon emissions to the UK by over 50%. On the water front, by implementing drip irrigation at all of its vineyards, Concha y Toro has lowered its water footprint by 38% in the past three years.
The company is also on track for all of the energy used at its facilities to come from renewable sources by 2020, as well as becoming a zero waste firm next year. It also intends to reduce its direct carbon emissions by 40% and indirect emissions by 17% by 2030.
Concha y Toro
Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Familia Torres Winery
Renewable Energy Implementation Award – Lanchester Wines and Greencroft Bottling
Our judges were impressed by this “really strong, revolutionary, innovative and thoughtful” entry that offered different solutions for different situations. Keen to minimise its use of fossil fuels, the company has pumped over £8 million into renewable energy and heat generation – its Greencroft site is powered by a trio of wind turbines that produce over 5.5m kilowatt hours of clean energy a year.
To date, the company’s sustainable practices at Greencroft have generated enough clean energy to power 60,200 homes. In addition to wind turbines, Lanchester works with heat pump technology using water from disused mines at its warehouses in Gateshead – the largest system of its kind in Europe – that has the capability of drawing over 110 litres of water per second.
Our judges praised how seriously committed this privately owned family business is to renewable energy, believing a lot of businesses could learn by the example it sets. Looking ahead, Greencroft is due to open “the world’s most sustainable bottling facility” next year, run entirely on renewable wind and solar power.
Commendation for wines – Scheid Family Wines
Scheid Family Wines in Monterey County, California, received a commendation for installing a 264 foot tall wind turbine in the middle of its vineyard in 2017 – an endeavour that took five years of planning and required its owners to uproot two acres of vines to make room for it. Making use of winds from the Salinas Valley, the turbine produces 1.85 megawatts of electricity per year, (a carbon offset of around 3,645 tons) enough not only for the winery’s energy needs, but also to power 125 local homes.
Commendation for spirits – Pernod Ricard Finland
Also receiving a commendation was Pernod Ricard Finland, which has been running with 100% renewable energy from Finnish wind power since the beginning of the year, leading to a 2,000-tonne reduction of its carbon emissions.
Amorim Sustainability Award for Spirits – Greensand Ridge Distillery
Our spirits winner in this competitive category went to the UK’s first carbon neutral distillery – Greensand Ridge in Kent. Our judges were “blown away” by just how deeply the company cares about giving back to the environment and its “extraordinary” commitment to renewable energy and water conservation, believing it should serve as the blueprint for other drinks firms in terms of how to run a successful sustainable business.
Among the distillery’s green initiatives are using renewable power; being so close to zero waste it only produces one bin bag of rubbish every six weeks; and developing a natural filtered cooling pond that provides the distillery with cold water and a habitat for water-based fauna.
On top of this, Greensand Ridge makes its spirits from quality surplus food and food system biproducts, recovering around 50 tonnes of produce per year. Its whisky is made from bread and brandies from outgraded raspberries, apples and plums.
Amorim Sustainability Award for Cider – Aston Manor
We also awarded a winner in the cider category – Aston Manor in Birmingham – which impressed our judges with its well-rounded entry and dedication to sustainable practices, particularly with respect to packaging. This year the firm introduced 51% recycled content into its PET packaging, saving around 1,000 tonnes of raw material annually – the equivalent of 25 million bottles.
“This is what sustainability award is about,” said one judge. It is also committed to light-weighting both its PET and canned ciders and is working towards having no waste in landfill sites in 2020. With regards to the apples it uses in the production process, Aston Manor works with local growers and has recently planted an extra 400,000 apple trees.
The pulp left over after the apples are pressed is used both as bio-fertiliser and to generate renewable gas. The company is also committed to social responsibility and has replaced its three litre PET bottles with 2.5l bottles, so that 43m fewer units of alcohol are consumed per year.
Amorim Sustainability Award for Wine – VSPT Wine Group
Our winner in the wine category was Chile’s VSPT Wine Group, whose pitch impressed our judges. With over a decade of dedication to sustainable practices, the topic remains a top priority for VSPT, influencing every aspect of the company. Keen to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible, VSPT has set a goal to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2021, and has installed solar panels at nine of its estates.
In addition, in 2016 the wine giant built the world’s first biogas plant that uses harvest waste to create clean energy and is on track to recycle or reuse 100% of its waste by 2021. VSPT is also a champion of biodiversity, and has, to date, planted over 11,530 native plants and trees of 35 different species through its conservation work. Another of its big focuses has been working with the local community to plant a Mapuche vineyard in Chile’s unexplored Malleco Valley.
Commendation – Napa Valley Vintners
Trade association Napa Valley Vintners was commended for its “extremely strong” entry and admirable commitment to getting all 550 of the California wine region’s member vintners involved in sustainable initiatives via its Napa Green certification programme. Since its inception, over 70% of Napa’s vineyard land, equivalent to 32,000 acres, has achieved Napa Green certification, and as of this year, nearly 80% of eligible members are participating in the programme.
Having recently signed up to the Porto Protocol, Napa Valley Vintners has asked its member wineries to receive their power from 100% renewable energy sources in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Commendation – Symington Family Estates
Our judges also commended Symington Family Estates – the first winery in Portugal to achieve B Corporation status – an international accreditation that recognises the commitment to a more sustainable way of doing business. Since 2015 the firm has reduced its per bottle carbon emissions by 23% via the installation of solar panels and greater efficiencies in the production and transportation process.
The company has recently formed a 17-strong sustainability team focusing on specific areas, from biodiversity to water management, and has devised a ‘Mission 2025’ plan that takes in everything from electric cars and forest regeneration to low-impact packaging.
Commend – Glengoyne Distillery
Last but not least, Highland single malt distillery Glengoyne received a commendation for its strong entry that tackled several aspects of sustainability, from wind power to waste management. From this autumn, 100% of the distillery’s energy needs have been provided by wind power. And, thanks to the installation of an anaerobic digester, which converts the biproducts of mashing and distillation into electricity, Glengoyne has been able to power homes close to the distillery.
The company also supports the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and has campaigned to save the endangered Greenland white-fronted goose after which the distillery is named. It is the first distillery in Scotland to adopt a wetlands facility – boasting 14,500 plants of 20 species – to filter its waste liquid through. Most recently, Glengoyne has developed new recyclable packaging for its single malts that is set to launch early next year.
Flor de Caña
VSPT Wine Group
Symington Family Estates
Aston Manor Cider
Napa Valley Vintners
Amorim Biodiversity Award – Spier Wines
A hot topic for this year, the judge’s praised our winner’s “strong entry” and the fact that the company “went above and beyond” in its plight to increase biodiversity at the South African estate, which dates back to 1692. Considering its ecosystems its “honoured first residents”, Spier is dedicated to conserving and enhancing sites on its farm that are rich in fynbos vegetation through replanting programmes.
Going a step further, Spier has a permanent team of 30 employees dedicated to the propagation and replanting of indigenous, endemic and endangered plant species. Its nursey has planted over 53,200 different trees, shrubs and fynbos on the farm since 2012, encouraging members of the local community to take part in tree growing in exchange for food vouchers and education fees, as part of its “Tree-preneurs” project.
It has also planted wide ‘nature corridors’ surrounding the vineyards to act as wind breaks. One of its greatest focuses recently is the clearing, cleaning and replanting of the Eerste River to attract animal and bird life back to the area.
Commendation – Concha y Toro
Concha y Toro was commended for championing biodiversity as one of the key pillars of its sustainability strategy. Its Native Forest Conservation Programme seeks to protect 3,272 hectares of native forest surrounding its vineyards in Chile’s Central Valley, conserve the biodiversity within its ecosystems, and protect its endangered species.
Commendation – Warners Distillery
Also receiving a commendation was gin maker Warners for its ‘Operation honeybee’ initiative that aims to alleviate some of the pressures facing bee populations by encouraging fans of its gin to plant the wildflower seeds that come with bottles of its Honeybee gin – the equivalent of nine acres of wildflowers sown across the UK (if everyone plants their seeds).
Foraging locally for its botanicals, Warners has increased the number of honeybee colonies on its farm to 23, each of which has a bee population of 50,000 during the height of the summer. Its next biodiversity-led focus is managing existing wildflower habitats, and hedgerow conservation alongside the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.
Green Personality of the Year – Kris Beal, executive director of Vineyard Team
Our winner, Kris Beal, has over 20 years of experience as executive director of California-based Vineyard Team, a firm dedicated to promoting sustainable winegrowing through research, education and grower-to-grower networking.
Beal played a pivotal role in the development of the Positive Points Scheme – a self-assessment tool for vineyards using a whole farm integrated approach to management. Since founding the initiative, there have been over 1,000 evaluations across 60,000 acres of land.
Beal also played a role in the development of the ‘SIP’ certification in 2008 – a meaningful third party certification for sustainable wine production. Today, over 43,000 acres and 36 million bottles of wine meet the certification’s strict standards that address everything from air quality and habitat protection to water conservation.
Just last month Beal hosted the International Sustainable Winegrowing Summit, which brought together experts in the field from across the US.