Changing the world. One bottle at a time.

“Organic is no longer a movement, it is an imperative.” These are the words of Greg Garden, Group Brand Executive of Nedbank. He was addressing guests at the annual Nedbank Green Wine Awards, held in partnership with Getaway magazine, last week. And although the focus here was on wine and sustainable wine farming, the importance of a holistic approach to the earth and its resources in totality couldn’t be overstated – also in light of the upcoming Cop 17 /United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban.

With just six days to go the Conference of The Parties (Cop 17), where solutions to the greatest challenge of our generation will be sought, the ‘green message’ again enjoys a spate of media attention – but does the average consumer care? Suggestions from the latest Nedbank Green Wine Awards ceremony is that, when it comes to wine, the answer is: not enough. Not enough to make a difference.

In his speech Garden called for a bigger drive amongst wineries to switch to organic farming practices. He bemoaned the fact that the amount of wines entered for this annual competition differed little in numbers – and had in fact dwindled in growth compared to previous years. A point also highlighted by panel Chairman Christian Eedes. “Nedbank is disappointed in the lack of growth in entries for the annual Nedbank Green Wine Awards,” said Garden, however adding that Nedbank will continue to support this initiative with vigour. 

The reasons informing the static growth in so-called ‘green wines’ can be debated. Suggestions point to the economic climate (as organic farming is an expensive practice) on the one hand, and consumer naivety on the other (the impression that organic wines are of lesser quality than conventional wines) which does little to grow the market.

It is the latter that the Nedbank Green Wine Awards initiative tackles heads-on. It is an attempt to drive consumer awareness by identifying wines made from organically grown grapes and submitting it to a meticulous judging procedure – awarding excellence in a bid for others to follow. The competition also highlights producers that farm in a sustainable manner, awarding those that best meet the long list of criteria (this year’s top performer being Paul Cluver in Elgin).  

But have the results penetrated the social conscience of the market? Will you buy the Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2010 – rated as the Best Wine Overall as well as Best White Wine – to go with your Free Range Chicken as a result? Or will you, like most other consumers, cap your social conscience and select whatever brand is cheapest or best known?

Rhetorical questions which seek to illustrate that an individual answer has potentially global consequences.  You don’t need to travel to Durban to contribute to global change. You can do it in the comfort of your home – one bottle at a time.

Making a difference has never been this much fun.

The winners in this year’s Nedbank Green Wine Awards were:
Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2010 – Best White Wine and Best Wine Overall
Laibach The Ladybird Red 2010 – Best Red Wine
Stellar Heaven on Earth Natural Sweet – Best Natural Sweet Wine
Best Environmental Practices Award
Paul Cluver, Elgin – Winner
La Motte Franschhoek – Runner-up

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