The Green Awards: Behind the scenes at the glitzy ceremony and winners
In early December 2021, before we were all floored underneath a tsunami of wrapping paper, empty mince pie foils and AA batteries with varying degrees of life, the drinks business hosted its annual Green Awards ceremony.
Late last year, the great and the good of the drinks world gathered at The Club at The Ivy in London’s Covent Garden to toast the extraordinary efforts made by drinks companies towards minimising their impact on our planet.
This time around, our awards felt even more poignant than usual as they are proof that businesses have continued to invest in a brighter and more sustainable future despite bottom lines being hit hard by the pandemic. It was also meaningful to be able to celebrate face to face again following 2020’s virtual ceremony.
Now in its 12th year, and still the only industry gongs awarded to green-minded drinks companies, the category shortlists were whittled down following many hours of impassioned judging over Zoom.
Careful consideration was given to individual contributions made, regardless of the size or reach of the company in question. Indeed, one of the themes to have emerged from this year ’s collection of winners is that small businesses can make a big difference.
As you’ll see from our judges’ choices, they felt that having green-focused companies at the heart of local communities is equally as important as the billion-dollar drinks giants driving the sustainable conversation on the global stage. We need organisations at both ends of the scale to be singing from the same recycled-paper hymn sheet.
Introducing the ceremony, Patrick Schmitt MW and editor-in-chief of the drinks business, stressed the need for green-minded companies to consider all areas of their business when setting out a sustainability agenda.
“Indeed, the producers who won big this year tended to be those who have put green issues at the core of their business, greening their energy use and generation, waste treatment, and transport type, while also considering recycling rates, packaging weight and, importantly, how they can benefit their surroundings, socially and environmentally,” he told guests.
One of our judges praised the notable absence of “greenwashing” and “token tree-planting”from entrants, and said that winners were chosen for their tangible achievements during the past year, rather than ambitious future targets.
The awards ceremony culminated in glasses raised, full to the brim with Emiliana Organic Chilean fizz, Oxney organic English sparkling and organic rosé and Chardonnay from Argentina’s Domaine Bousquet, as well as a wonderful Rioja Reserva from Marqués de Cáceres. Pol Roger Brut Réserve Champagne vanished faster than a drink start-up’s carbon footprint.
We are extremely grateful for the support of our partners Amorim, Pol Roger Portfolio, and Welsh water brand Ty Nant. So without further ado, read on for the full list of winners from The Drinks Business Green Awards 2021.
THE AMORIM SUSTAINABILITY AWARD FOR A WINE, BEER OR CIDER BUSINESS
Winner: Ruffino Wines This year ’s winner is a business that has made great strides in the sustainable management of its wine production. From reducing energy use and waste, to promoting biodiversity, Ruffino Wines really impressed our judges. With a comprehensive sustainability report, it was made clear to all how this Italian estate is taking its approach to the environment extremely seriously, while making plenty of measurable change for the better in the past year, from wetland creation to organic certification. As one judge said: “It’s rare to see such a comprehensive and audited approach; I’m very impressed.”
Commendation: Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW)
The judges wanted to award the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance for its dedication to creating a more sustainable future for wineries in the US. Described by the judges as being “detailed” and “vocal” in its approach, this association was praised highly for its scope and influence.
Commendation: Champagne Telmont The judges also wanted to commend a producer that has made much sustainable progress in the world of luxury fizz. With almost three quarters of Champagne Telmont’s production now certified organic – and the rest by 2025 – this is a rare beacon of eco-minded grape-growing in Champagne. Not only that, but Telmont has ditched all extraneous packaging, and moved to renewableenergy sources.
Commendation – Viña Concha y Toro – Palo Alto Achieving widespread praise from the judges, it was decided to commend the recently B-Corp certified Viña Concha y Toro for its outstanding work preserving and promoting the native forests of the Maule Valley. Under its Maule-based Palo Alto wine brand, which takes its name from a Maule tree species, it has preserved more than 1,300 hectares of native sclerophyllous forest in this central part of Chile, while also creating an educational park to promote the value of various plant species which are in danger of extinction.
Shortlist: Accolade Wines – Banrock Station Château Capet-Guillier – Antoine Moueix Propriétés Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné Jordan Winery Viña Concha y Toro – Palo Alto
GREEN COMPANY OF THE YEAR
Winner: Familia Torres Our judges were impressed with the sheer time and resources that Familia Torres has dedicated to green issues, describing Torres as “the godfather of sustainability” and seeing the company as having “a real leadership role” to play in the green movement. They applauded the company’s generosity in sharing its findings with other wineries around the world, not least through co-founding the IWCA. Furthermore, the judges admired Torres’ “very genuine commitment” to the cause, having ploughed the furrow consistently and made sustainability a fundamental part of its business. Despite having spent €16 million on improving environmental practices over the past 10 years or so, Torres is not content to simply rest on its laurels, as proven by the implementation of its unique balloon-capture system in 2021, which is set to capture and reuse 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide created by the wine-fermentation process.
Special commendation (beer): Petainer The judges believed that the polyethylene terephthalate technology developed by Petainer for use in its beer kegs has the potential to be “truly gamechanging” and “transformative”; a profoundly industrysteering initiative, as indicated by the fact that giants such as Carlsberg and Coca- Cola have already signed up to use it.
Special commendation (wine): Lanchester Wines Judges were unanimous in their respect for Lanchester ’s journey to becoming a business that puts sustainability front and centre of operations. They lauded the brand for its pioneering heat pump technology using water taken from disused mines in the north of England, and for its significant number of wind turbines, from which 42% of the energy comes for its bottling.
Special commendation (spirits): Cooper King Our judges felt Cooper King rises way above “token gestures” to ensure that “everything they do is well thoughtthrough as a green initiative”. They loved the brand’s refillable gin bottle system, which has seen a 40% take-up from consumers, and remarked on the fact that its impressive achievements were “no mean feat, considering the number of distilleries in the UK”.
Shortlist: Concha y Toro Cooper King Familia Torres Lanchester Wines Petainer VSPT
BEST GREEN LAUNCH OF THE YEAR
Winner: Coral Ethical Wine Our judges felt this May 2021 launch stood out for its impressive numbers, having sold 58,000 bottles in less than six months. They also rated the brand for having “a crystal-clear idea of who its audience is” and for its “cleverly thoughtthrough social media campaign”. One judge went as far as to say: “Long gone are the days of new products being sent out to leathery, middle-aged men who are only interested in grower Burgundies. This launch is perfectly suited to both social media and to the younger audience it strives to connect with.”
Special commendation: Villa Maria This contemporary, digital-led campaign for the brand’s first organic range of wines hit the nail on the head for our judges, who stressed the importance of cornerstone brands such as Villa Maria innovating in the field of sustainability.
Shortlist: Bodegas Luzon Coral Ethical Wine Masi Valdo Spumanti Villa Maria
THE ETHICAL AWARD
Winner: Journey’s End Vineyards The judges felt this impressive entry perfectly showcased the company’s “extraordinary achievements” during the past year. Judges were staggered by how much had been done, from feeding the local community more than one million meals via its soup kitchens to becoming carbon negative as an organisation. It was felt that Journey’s End Vineyards stood “head and shoulders above the rest”.
Special commendation: St Supéry The judges acknowledged the challenges faced by brands in developed countries when up against competition from brands in locations where poverty is high and there is a clearer community contribution to be made. Judges were impressed by St Supéry’s impressive fundraising and by its “Giving Tuesdays” charity events in the Napa Valley, as well as the local school it has adopted.
Shortlist: Cantina Toblino Journey’s End Vineyards Bosman Family Vineyards St Supéry VSPT
GREEN PACKAGING OF YEAR
Winner: EcoSPIRITS According to the judges, EcoSPIRITS “nailed it” with its innovative ecoTote supply system, currently used by around 800 bars and restaurants. They admired the company’s aim to end single-use glass in the spirits industry, and said: “When you look at fast-moving bars in particular, this is brilliant. We can’t believe there isn’t already a tie-up with a major distillery.”
Special commendation: Frugalpac This paper wine bottle was rated highly by the judges for having the potential to be a significant innovation in the whole industry. While it was recognised that there is still work to be done, given that the packaging still contains an element of plastic, the judges felt that the fact the brand has received enquiries to make 100 million bottles meant it was a strong step in the right direction.
Shortlist: Anora Group Sustainable Wine Solutions EcoSPIRITS Frugalpac La Cantina Pizzolato
BEST ORGANIC INITIATIVE
Winner: Small Beer Brew Co. The judges applauded this company’s “simple, wholesome, down-to-earth” approach to the release of its Organic IPA, and recognised the no-small-hurdle that Small Beer Brew Co. had in convincing its hop growers to go organic. The company has managed to buy up the whole UK organic hop production, and become the first B-Corp certified brewery.
Special commendation: Champagne Telmont The judges prefaced this special commendation by acknowledging the challenges of “going organic in Champagne”. They also admired the House’s courage in swimming against the tide by eliminating gift-box packaging for its Champagne, and rated its first organic cuvée release, which came out last year – all in the midst of a major rebranding exercise, having acquired new major shareholder The Rémy Cointreau Group in 2020.
Shortlist: Champagne Telmont Gérard Bertrand Medlock Ames Saranskiy Distillers – Chisti Rosi Organic Vodka Small Beer Co.
RENEWABLE ENERGY AWARD
Winner: Belvedere Vodka The judges were bowled over by Belvedere’s biomass-capture facility, which opened in Poland in 2021. The new distillery will become capable of producing 100%-renewable energy this year. The brand also has plans for the facility to feed into the local power grid, providing energy to the community which has hosted its vodka production site for years. Our judges felt this struck a pitch-perfect note between “producing sustainably and giving back”.
Special commendation: Petainer Our judges admired the fact that Petainer is already producing 100%-renewable energy at two of its three plants, with plans under way for converting its final site in Russia over to renewable energy.
Shortlist: Belvedere Vodka Petainer Sogrape Valdo Spumanti
BEST LOGISTICS AND SUPPLY CHAIN GREEN INITIATIVE
Winner: Kuehne+Nagel for Vinlog Kuehne+Nagel stood out for proving that it’s possible to make significant green progress, even during a pandemic, in a sector that inevitably leaves a bigger environmental footprint than other corner of the drinks industry.
Commendation: Sustainable Wine Solutions Borough Wines, with its Sustainable Wine Solutions, was commended for its valuable work with its ‘zero waste’ strategy for wine.
Commendation: FreshKeg The judges were impressed by the reduced wastage that FreshKeg ensures during its containment, storage and dispensing of beer and wine.
Shortlist: FreshKeg Kuehne+Nagel – Vinlog Sustainable Wine Solutions
THE WATER MANAGEMENT AWARD
Winner: Journey’s End Vineyards South Africa’s Journey’s End stood out for its network of waterway-catchment channels and dams to conserve the little precipitation it receives. With a system to collect run-off at the estate, before cleaning it, Journey’s End is able to reuse rain and waste water to prevent the producer drawing on valuable supplies elsewhere. It has also reduced irrigation in the vineyard by building up the waterholding capacity of its soils, adding mulch from cover crops, planted between vines. It also rolls taller grasses to shade soils during the hottest months.
GREEN PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Winner: Bárbara Wolff Göpfert, VSPT Our judges were unanimous in choosing their winner, forgoing a special commendation for this category as there was “simply no comparison” with the victor. According to the panel, Bárbara has been consistent with her goals, and has always met them since joining the firm in 2018, a remarkable achievement in such a big company.
However, she is “always pushing, always asking ‘what’s next’?” They described her as a “force of energy” and applauded her broadcasts on biodiversity. One judge said: “She is relentless and never-ending when it comes to the issue of sustainability, which is what we need to be.”
Speaking to the drinks business, Wolff Göpfert said: “We know that climate change is real and that it threatens our existence. We want to be part of the solution to tackle it and mitigate the consequences. We cannot revel in past achievements; we need to go further. For this reason we have been looking to a more collaborative work, as I believe that setting goals as an industry is absolutely key to succeeding.”
Speaking about her award win, she said: “I regard this wonderful acknowledgment as great encouragement to continue challenging ourselves, to continue proposing, and to continue building.”