The Drinks Business Green Awards 2020 winners

Honouring the drinks trade’s eco warriors, rather than our usual fizz-fuelled gathering at The Club at The Ivy in Covent Garden, we had to settle for a virtual ceremony this year due to the pandemic, which was streamed from the eco-conscious Treehouse Hotel London in Marylebone on 7 December.

Presented by db’s editor-in-chief, Patrick Schmitt MW, this year’s Green Awards celebrated businesses that are going above and beyond to reduce their impact on the environment.

Our judges were particularly impressed at the quality of the entries this year, with businesses upping their focus on all aspects of being green, in addition to reducing their carbon emissions.

Launched in 2010, our awards are still the only set of industry gongs dedicated exclusively to green-minded drinks companies. 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.

If you’re going to be truly sustainable in today’s fast-paced world, you must consider all aspects of your business operations – whether that’s energy use, water conversation, recycling, transportation, packaging weight, or how you benefit your surroundings, socially, ethically and environmentally.

When it comes to packaging, drinks already have a head start, as wines and spirits generally use glass, which is both inert and easily recycled. We also use cork; a natural, biodegradable material that supports diverse ecosystems and agricultural labourers in sparsely populated parts of southwestern Europe.

However, in wine production, we also use large amounts of water, and potentially damaging 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 wine business to apply poisonous chemicals to vines.

Drinks businesses need to find ways to be sustainable from an economic as well as an environmental perspective. With importers, distributors, retailers and consumers demanding ethically-sourced products, companies in all sectors of the drinks industry must improve their green credentials to thrive long term.

Before we celebrate the green trailblazers in the industry, we would like to thank our discerning judges in 2020’s awards, along with our lead sponsor, Amorim, for its continued support of the sustainability and biodiversity awards, and for the cork-framed certificates for our winners.

We are also extremely grateful to our partners for the 2020 Green Awards: Amorim, Pol Roger Portfolio, ProWein, EuroShop and Energy Storage Europe. Read on for our full list of winners from the awards.

The Amorim Sustainability Award for an association

Winner: The Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme (WASP)

Formed in 2015, The Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme (WASP) is a voluntary initiative, promoted by the Comissão Vitivinicola Regional Alentejana (CVRA) and aimed at grape and wine producers in the Alentejo Region. It particularly impressed the judges for the rapid growth in the number of member wineries recruited during the past 12 months, as well as the impact the association has had on their environmental footprint, with energy consumption reduced by 30%, and water use by 20%. The judges also rated WASP for its training workshops, independent auditing process, and high standards, as well as the fact all these achievements had been made on a small budget.

Shortlist:

  • International Wineries for Climate Action
  • The Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme
  • Wines of Great Britain Ltd

 

The Amorim Sustainability Award for a company

Winner: Flor de Caña

Having been certified as Carbon Neutral by the Carbon Trust in May 2020, Flor de Caña is the only global spirit to hold the world’s two top sustainability certifications: Carbon Neutral and Fair Trade. While this recent achievement impressed the judges, it was also this Nicaraguan distiller’s other efforts that secured its position at 2020’s winner, in particular its products to support the local community, its focus on recycling, and its tree planting programme. Having considered the five pillars of sustainability, the judges agreed that Flor de Cana had “ticked every box”.

Commendation: Château Maris

This biodynamic southern French wine producer was deemed worthy of a special commendation for its plant-based buildings, push to reduce CO2 emissions, early B-Corp status, and major new plantings in the past year, both of vineyards but also boundary areas to promote biodiversity.

Commendation: Thatchers Cider

The judges were very keen to commend this cider business for its recent investment in renewable energy, along with its efforts to eradicate plastic in packaging, encourage diverse orchards and plans to be self sufficient in terms of energy requirements by 2025.

Shortlist:

  • Château Maris
  • De Bortoli Wines
  • Flor de Caña Rum
  • Ian MacLeod Distillers
  • Susana Balbo Wines
  • Thatchers Cider

  

The Amorim Biodiversity Award

Winner: Château de l’Escarelle

Promoting biodiversity has been core to the approach at Château de l’Escarelle in the heart of of the Provence Verte region. With 100 hectare organic vineyard is set in 1,000 hectares of woodland, this property has made major strides in the last year to augment species richness, with cover crops in the vineyards, plantations of apple and olive trees in the surrounding environs, and a butterfly garden in partnership with a bird conservation charity. Having looked at this entry, with all its efforts to promote species richness in a beautiful landscape, one judge said, “I just want to be there”.

Commendation: Château Leoube

The judges felt that Château Leoube deserved a commendation for its all-encompassing efforts to create a remarkable sustainable vineyard estate in Provence and its brilliant plan to enhance biodiversity, and they look forward to seeing the measurable results of this soon.

Commendation: Irish Distillers

It was also felt by the judges that Irish Distillers should be commended for its work fostering Ireland’s endangered wildflower species, and the fauna its supports, while incentivising local farmers to enhance biodiversity on their estates too.

Shortlist:

  • Château de l’Escarelle
  • Château Leoube
  • Irish Distillers
  • Left Coast Estate
  • Yealands Wine Group

 

Green Packaging for Wine Design of the Year

Winner: VSPT Wine Group for B-Liv

The judges loved this new wine launch from Chile’s VSPT group for its striking design, beautiful finish, and eco-minded approach. Called B-Liv, it was launched globally in 2020 as a range of organic and vegan wines, while being a new range produced using renewable energy originating from VSPT’s own generation sources. The judges were particularly impressed by the fact that all production inputs were 100% recyclable materials, while B-Liv employs the lightest possible bottle for the category in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. Sealed with cork, VSPT stressed that the closure is certified carbon-negative, natural and compostable. Using traditional materials, while minimising the impact on the environmental, the judges stressed that people would want to buy it, whether or not they are eco-minded consumers.

 

Green Packaging for Wine Innovation of the Year

Winners: Accolade Wines and Garçon Wines

It was decided this year to give the Green Packaging Innovation Award to two companies, because the judges felt they were equally deserving. While both employed the same novel packaging format, a flat PET wine bottle, Garçon Wines was a deserving winner of this year’s award as the developer of the product, while Accolade Wines was also a worthy recipient as the first major brand to put its weight behind it, by adopting the bottle for its Banrock Station wine brand, while putting in the technology to fill it on a large scale by installing a new bespoke line for the flat format at its bottling plant in Bristol, called The Park.

Commenting on the product, the judges noted how it has already proven to have a positive reception among wine drinkers in the Scandinavian and Nordic markets, and described it as “a very exciting packaging innovation.” As for its take-up by Accolade Wines, they commented that this marks a “huge” development the flat bottle, and one that will be key for the format’s roll-out into the mainstream.

Shortlist:

  • Accolade Wines
  • Bosco UK
  • Bruce Jack Wines Limited
  • Garçon Wines
  • VSPT Wine Group

 

Green Packaging for Spirits Award

 Winner: Ian MacLeod Distilleries

Our judges praised this company’s use of 100% recyclable packaging, featuring no metals or plastic, sourced from FSC approved suppliers, and the way it encourages consumers to reuse its prestige packaging as a storage cabinet once the whisky has been drunk. “They take the topic of sustainability very seriously and are working with Scottish suppliers to support their local economy,” said one judge.

Commendation: Bush rum

This company deserved commending for its use of 100% recycled glass, which, in the process, makes every bottle unique for the end consumer. They also loved the fact that its labels are natural, biodegradable and made from 95% sugar cane.

Shortlist:

  • Bush Rum
  • Ian MacLeod Distillers
  • Irish Distillers

 

Green Company of the Year

 Winner: Jackson Family Wines

Our judges praised this company’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and its goal to become climate positive by 2050, and felt the firm proved how seriously it takes green issues through the co-founding of the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) initiative. Described by one judge as “true leaders in their field”, this company stood out for its level of commitment to reducing emissions, widescale use of renewable energy, and the way it gives back to the land through regenerative farming. “They practice what they preach and support others to help them do the same,” said one judge.

Commendation: Flor de Caña

Our judges were impressed by this company’s commitment to the environment and the fact that its rums are distilled with 100% renewable energy generated from biomass. They praised its efforts in giving back to the planet via the annual planting of 50,000 trees, along with its capturing and recycling of carbon emissions, which are sold on to breweries in Central America – an initiative our judges said was “impressive and unique”.

Commendation: Two Drifters Distillery

This company deserved commending for being the world’s first rum distillery with a carbon negative footprint. Our judges liked its use of a certified carbon neutral courier, a zero emissions electric Nissan van for local deliveries, and how it is converting its carbon emissions to stone and edible waste into farm feed. “They show what the little guys can do really well through every step of the supply chain,” said one judge.

Shortlist:

  • Cape Byron
  • Concha y Toro
  • Flor de Caña Rum
  • Jackson Family Wines
  • Two Drifters Distillery
  • Yealands Wine Group

 

Best Organic Initiative

Winner: Bonterra

Our winner was praised for using humour to educate consumers about the importance of organic viticulture, while poking fun at wine clichés through its Tastes Like Saving the Planet campaign. “Educating people about green issues is very important nowadays, and I loved how they used humour to tell their story and spread the word,” said one judge.

Commendation: Organic Winegrowers New Zealand

Our judges felt this initiative deserved commending for its fresh take on raising awareness about organic viticulture, and praised how the campaign has evolved this year to become both more international and digitally focused due to the pandemic. They loved its international reach, multi channel approach, and goal of inspiring others to follow an organic path.

Commendation: Gerard Bertrand

Our judges felt this producer deserved commending for its large-scale efforts in implementing and championing organic and biodynamic viticulture across 16 estates in France. They loved the sharing of knowledge with other wine growers at its dedicated research and development centre, and its partnering with farmers that share its organic vision. “Regenerative agriculture is the next big thing that people will be guided towards and this producer is already doing it on a wide scale, which is very impressive,” one judge said.

Shortlist:

  • Bonterra
  • Gerard Bertrand
  • Organic Winegrowers New Zealand
  • Reyneke Wines

 

Ethical Company of the Year 

 Winner: Journey’s End

Our judges were unanimous in their praise for this company’s genuine commitment to supporting its local community, which this year led to the creation of a foundation aiming to tackle worsening hunger and poverty within the South Africa by providing 10,000 free meals a week via nine soup kitchens – a feat one judge described as “extraordinary”. “They are doing something desperately needed right now in providing food for their local community that has been devastated by the pandemic – it’s a little bit of magic”.

Commendation: Kobe Shushin-Kan Brewery

This company deserved commending for supporting its local community via down to earth initiatives like using local rice in the production of its sakes, local produce at its restaurant, and helping to return storks to the wild.

Commendation: Bosman Family Vineyards

This well rounded winey also deserved commending for caring for its community at all ages and stages via its educational bursaries, community crèche and adult literacy programme, with one judge calling it “the gold standard” of how to run an ethical company.

Shortlist:

  • Bosman Family Vineyards
  • Journey’s End
  • Kobe Shushinkan Brewery
  • Santa Rita
  • Trivento

 

Green Launch of the Year

 Winner for wine: De Bortoli for 17 Trees

Our winner stood out for its compelling story backed up by an impressive product with great packaging. With a commitment to offsetting its carbon emissions by planting trees to rebuild Australia’s bushland, our judges loved the connection between the brand story and the positive action that has been taken as a result, planting one tree for every six bottles of wine sold. “They’ve successfully turned their idea into a brand with an engaging story,” said one judge.

Winner for spirits: Nc’Nean Distillery for Nc’Nean Organic Whisky

This company was praised for being the first organic single malt distillery in Scotland powered entirely by renewable energy. Our judges loved its use of 100% recycled glass to house the first bottles of whisky coming off its stills. “It’s a great example of how a small operation can do a good job and should serve as a kick up the backside for the Scotch industry,” said one judge, while another believed it to be “a potential game changer for the Scotch industry”.

This company was praised for being the first organic single malt distillery in Scotland powered entirely by renewable energy. Our judges loved its use of 100% recycled glass to house the first bottles of whisky coming off its stills. “It’s a great example of how a small operation can do a good job and should serve as a kick up the backside for the Scotch industry,” said one judge, while another believed it to be “a potential game changer for the Scotch industry”.

Shortlist:

  • Altia for Koskenkorva Vodka Climate Action
  • Bruce Jack Wines Limited for Bruce Jack 1.5l boxed Chenin Blanc
  • De Bortoli for 17 Trees
  • NcNean Distillery for NcNean Organic Whisky

 

Logistics and Supply Chain Initiative

Winner: Lightweight Containers

Our winner stood out for its OneCircle initiative, which connects the interests and needs of the entire supply chain to contribute to the circular economy of plastics. Our judges were impressed by the fact that the company created its own recycled PET material from its PET waste this year, reducing the need for virgin PET material. Collecting used kegs from its customers, the company converts the kegs into recycled raw materials, which are used to produce new PET preforms.

Commendation: Fetzer Vineyards

Our winner was praised for looking at the wider impact of its operations, and spreading its green philosophy by encouraging its suppliers to become organic. “They are a big company that is driving change and are very serious in their commitment to working sustainably across the supply chain,” said one judge.

Shortlist:

  • Fetzer Vineyards
  • Hillebrand
  • Lightweight Containers

 

Water Management Award

 Winner: Kobe Shushin-Kan Brewery

Our winner was praised for reducing its water use while doubling its sake production. The judges were impressed by its use of air bubble technology to halve the amount of water used in the rice washing process, and its creation of a 72,000-litre water storage tank capable of supplying drinking water to the local community in the event of a natural disaster.

Commendation: Destilería Serrallés

Our judges felt this Puerto Rican distillery also deserved commending for its long-term commitment to reducing water waste through its wastewater reclamation system that transforms wastewater into irrigation-grade water used to irrigate the fields surrounding the distillery, while preventing wastewater from ending up in the ocean.

Shortlist:

  • Destilería Serrallés
  • Kobe Shushinkan Brewery
  • Thatchers Cider

 

Renewable Energy Award

Winner: The Park

Our judges were impressed by the fact that our winner boasts the UK’s biggest onshore wind turbine, which looks after 50% of its renewable energy needs. Over its operating life the turbine will save 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. Running on 100% renewable energy, our winner seeks to further save energy through the use of heat recovery systems, while its carbon emissions are lowered via on-site nitrogen generation and the use of hydrotreated vegetable oil in place of diesel in its vehicles, which is currently being trialled.

Commendation: Redheads

We felt this company deserved commending for being 97% powered by self-generated and stored renewable energy from solar and storage batteries, leading to a saving of 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. We also admired its ambition to be carbon neutral, and the steps it is taking to achieve that goal, including an extensive audit of its carbon emissions.

 

Green Retailer of the Year

Winner: Honest Grapes

Our winner impressed us for its 360° approach to green practices, with 82% of the producers it works with practicing sustainable farming, nearly a third of which are certified organic. We also liked the fact that the retailer recently achieved its goal of having100% plastic-free packaging, and has increased the number of wines it imports directly in order to decrease its carbon emissions.

Commendation: Marks & Spencer

Our judges felt this carbon neutral retailer deserved commending for its green efforts, which include working with lighter-weight Prosecco bottles; changing the taps on its wine pouches to clear plastic to make them easier to recycle; and its aim to have its red and white wines bottled in green glass by the end of 2021 due to its higher proportion of recycled content.

 

Best Green Initiative

Winner: Adrian Bridge for the Porto Protocol

Our winner spearheaded The Porto Protocol Foundation, an ambitious non-profit corporate institution with hundreds of members, who are united by a commitment to make a greater contribution to mitigate climate change. Born out of the wine industry and spread across industries from its whole value chain, our winner created the foundation with the belief that if we share our successes and experiences, our response against climate change will be more effective. The foundation’s mission is to drive collaborative action by bringing together a network of change makers and workable climate solutions for and within the wine world. Among its many members are Amorim, Marks & Spencer, Napa Valley Vintners, Symington Family Estates and Catena Zapata.

Commendation: Justin Moran for The Hidden Sea

 This initiative deserved commending for its colossal efforts in reducing the number of plastic bottles that end up in our oceans, with the ultimate goal of removing a billion plastic bottles from the world’s oceans by 2030. With every bottle of The Hidden Sea that is purchased, the equivalent of ten 500ml plastic bottles are removed and recycled from the ocean. In order to be fully transparent, each batch of plastic collected is tracked and registered. Our judges loved how interactive the brand is, allowing drinkers to trace the journey of where and when the plastic gets collected on their behalf via a QR code.

 

Green Personality of the Year

Winner: Gerard Bertrand

Our winner stood out for his long-term commitment to organic viticulture – a journey that began in 2002 – and his recent efforts, as this year his entire vineyard operation, spanning 880 hectares across 16 estates in the Languedoc, is now either fully converted to biodynamics or in the conversion process. Having initially experimented with just four hectares at Domaine de Cigalus in Corbières in 2002, now over 60% of his vineyards are certified biodynamic by Demeter, and the remaining 40% are in the process of being certified. We also loved how he is helping the growers he partners with, by giving them technical, economical and commercial support in their quest to adopt organic farming methods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters