The winners of this year’s Nedbank Green Wine Awards were announced at Cape Town-based Myoga restaurant last month. The awards honour wine farmers who endeavour to reduce the impact of farming on their land and farm more sustainably.
Sixteen top achievers were announced at the function, with the Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2013 receiving top honours as the Best Wine Overall in the Made from Organically Grown Grapes category. The wine also received the Organic Best White Wine award. Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho 2012 scooped the Best Biodiversity and Wine Initiative Wine Overall, as well as the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative Best White Wine. La Motte was named the Best Farming Practices Overall winner and Vondeling was named the runner-up.
The Green Wines competition is divided into two categories: wines made by certified organic producers and wines from independent conservation organisation World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) member farms. BWI member farms with Champion status could also enter the Best Farming Practice category, which acknowledges efforts to operate a wine farm in a green manner.
Member farms that are regarded as leaders in environmental best practice and have committed more than 10% of farming land to conservation are awarded Champion status.
The Best Farming category of the Nedbank Green Wine Awards also encourages innovative solutions to environmental challenges, with BWI leaders inspiring farmers to tread more lightly regarding wine farming practices, while maintaining sound economic principles.
“Since the inception of these awards, our primary goal was to recognise and reward those wine producers in our country that put the wellbeing of the environment, the planet and its people first. We applaud every entry received in this year’s Green Wine Awards. While only one winner could be selected, we appreciate all the efforts that have been undertaken by local winemakers and their investment in sustainable business practices so that the green wines of today can be enjoyed by the generations of tomorrow,” said Nedbank integrated marketing executive Sydney Mbhele at the ceremony.
Entries for this year’s awards have increased, with 49 organic entries and 104 BWI entries, compared with last year’s 133 entries. Judges noted that the quality of wines entries had also improved.
“The judging panel included honorary life president of the South African Society of Enology and Viticulture Duimpie Bayly, Daniël Schietekat, of Integrated Production of Wine, Anel Blignaut, who has been involved in various aspects of environmental management in the agricultural industry and runs a consulting company, and environmental consulting firm Strategic Environmental Focus project manager Natalie Ritsch.
As always, qualifying wines will display their green credentials on bottle stickers, with retailer Checkers providing branded displays of the top-scoring wines at 28 of their selected stores this year, making it easier to identify the winners.
About 95% of South Africa’s wine growing takes place in the Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK), the richest and smallest plant kingdom in the world. This global biodiversity hot spot and World Heritage Site has come under increasing threat from agriculture, urban development and invasive alien plant species.
In 2004, faced with only 4% of the CFK’s unique renosterveld remaining and much of its lowland fynbos ecosystems under threat, the wine industry developed a conservation partnership with the Botanical Society of South Africa, Conservation International and The Green Trust, which led to the establishment of the BWI.
Widely praised as a pioneering partnership between the country’s wine industry and conservation sector, its mandate is not confined to only protecting natural habitat but also encouraging wine producers to farm sustainably and create awareness of the Cape’s abundant diversity of wines.
More than 140 000 ha of natural area have been conserved by BWI producers since the project’s inception, resulting in the South African wine industry’s conservation footprint being significantly more than its current vineyard footprint of more than 100 000 ha. For every hectare under vineyard, an additional hectare of natural vegetation is committed to conservation and this figure continues to grow.
Owing to the BWI, which has 175 members, South African wines lead the world in production integrity, environmental sustainability and conservation.
The BWI continues to enjoy global recognition for its leading business model that unites conservation and agricultural development in a complementary, mutually beneficial manner.