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2018 International Wine Award

Alexander Valley Vineyards of Healdsburg, California Wins Top Honors in BRIT’s 2018 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing Competition

E & J. Gallo Winery receives special gold corporate-wide sustainable winegrowing award

Three additional wineries from Argentina and the U.S. receive medals for their outstanding ground-to-glass sustainability programs

FORT WORTH, Texas – The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT®) is pleased to announce the winners in its 2018 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing competition. The platinum medal goes to Alexander Valley Vineyards (AVV) of Healdsburg, California, based on the winery’s on-going sustainable programs that address the three elements of sustainability: environmental, economic, social – and the Vineyard’s wine taste.

AVV is one of an elite group of wineries recognized as a Bay Area Green Business. They became a member of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program in 2006 and achieved vineyard certification in 2014. AVV bottled their first wine produced from organic certified grapes in 2008, today the family organically farms over 30 acres and offers two wines from 100% California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) grapes. A second family vineyard will receive CCOF certification in June 2018. Other AVV  sustainable initiatives include solar arrays that supply about half of the winery’s power; cover crop plantings to minimize pesticide use and control erosion; drip irrigation for precise water management; 25,000 square feet of underground, naturally cooled caves that reduce the winery’s carbon footprint; and installation of variable speed drives on all winery equipment to decrease energy waste.

The awarded wine was AVV’s, 2014 Organic Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard, using certified organic grapes.

“Alexander Valley Vineyards’ strong list of sustainable programs and care in winemaking produced an unbeatable application,” said Ed Schneider, BRIT’s president and director. “During the taste portion of the competition, our judges especially noted that the 100% organic varietal was perfectly balanced with fruit and spice to the taste and a testament to the Wetzel’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and family farming.”

AVV is a family-owned and operated winery located in the heart of Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, on the historic property originally settled in the 19th century by Cyrus Alexander, the valley’s namesake. Since 1975 the Wetzel Family has been producing an array of estate wines that reflect the unique character of the property.

“We are honored to receive the BRIT award and the recognition of the practices we have implemented over the decades” says Harry Wetzel. “As a family run operation, we all believe that it is our responsibility to make this an even better place for future generations.”

Additional BRIT sustainable awards went to:

Gold medals

  • E. & J. Gallo Winery, Modesto, California. Submitted 2015 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon. Gallo receives special recognition for its corporate-wide, multi-brand sustainability programs and for the organization’s industry leadership.
  • Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina. Submitted 2014 Catena Malbec.

Silver medal

  • Franciscan Estates, St. Helena, California. Submitted 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bronze medal

  • Peach Creek Vineyards, College Station, Texas. Submitted Sassy Lassy, semi-sweet Texas table wine made with Noble grapes.

Competition for BRIT’s 2018 international award began May, 2017, when wineries submitted applications documenting their sustainable programs relating to environmental, economic, and social aspects of grape growing, and wine production along with their wine samples.

When submitting for the competition, wineries provide a self-assessment of their organization’s accomplishments in sustainable winegrowing, winemaking, and ecopreneural/social responsibility practices. They describe their organization’s conservation efforts in the field and in operations: how waste is avoided, how it is reclaimed, and how the winery extends conservation efforts to its customers and community. They also are required to submit a bottle of wine for a tasting by the judging committee.

Because the BRIT award is the only international award of its kind, it is of primary interest to wineries which care deeply about the environment and are taking a leading role in their community/region/country by implementing sustainable practices. Sustainable winegrowing programs are by nature, ongoing, so a key part of each program is its continual improvement process.

As a nonprofit, international plant research and knowledge sharing organization, BRIT offers this award to help raise interest and awareness of the value plants bring to our lives and the need for biodiversity.

Presentation of the platinum award to Alexander Valley Vineyards will be made in Fort Worth on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 during BRIT’s Vine to Table dinner and auction fundraising event.

BRIT’s 2019 sustainable winegrowing competition begins May 1, 2018, with the competition’s Call for Entries news release and the 2019 application is posted on the BRIT website. The submission deadline is September 1, 2018.

Program Information
About BRIT/FIVS International Sustainable Winegrowing Competition