This week, Meininger Verlag presented its coveted Excellence in Wine and Spirit awards to outstanding personalities and families in the international wine and spirits industry. The awards ceremony took place in Düsseldorf, at the close of the Meininger’s International Wine Conference.
Normally the ceremony takes place on the Saturday before ProWein, at the Hotel InterContinental in Düsseldorf, but unfortunately had to be postponed after ProWein was cancelled.
The awards categories included the National and International Wine Entrepreneurs, as well as Wine Family of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Honorary Award and Spirit Brand of the Year.
The Meininger Awards of the Year 2020 honour the following companies and personalities:
Christoph Mack, Mack & Schühle, German Wine Entrepreneur of the Year
Christoph Mack is the owner of the wine import house Mack & Schühle in Owen/Teck. The grandson of the company founder, Mack has turned the family business – in operation since 1939 – into one of Europe’s leading distribution companies, with its own production facilities in Spain and Italy. “Professionalism, reliability, high level strategic thinking, plus high standards for himself and others, as well as cosmopolitanism characterise the personality of Christoph Mack,” said Dr. Hermann Pilz, chief editor of the trade journal Weinwirtschaft, Christoph Mack has been President of Germany’s Federal Association of Wine and Spirit Importers since 2010.
Andrea Sartori, Sartori di Verona, International Wine Entrepreneur of the Year
Andrea Sartori’s great-grandfather, hotelier Pietro Sartori, began bottling wines for his own use in 1898. Soon he was supplying customers in the wider area. His son Regolo went on to create strong wine brands and laid the foundations for a growing export business. Over time, Sartori helped drive the popularity of Valpolicella, Amarone and Soave in markets such as Germany and the USA. In 2000 the fourth generation, including Andrea Sartori, took over. He drove the exports, which today for 70% of production. Not only has he expanded his own company, but Andrea Sartori has worked tirelessly on behalf of both Italian and European wine producers, through some of the wine world’s most prestigious organisations.
Patrice Monmousseau, Bouvet-Ladubay, Lifetime Achievement Award
Bouvet-Ladubay is an important producer of high-quality Loire Crémants, based in Saumur, owned by the Monmousseau family. After Patrice Monmousseau, who started at the bottom of the company, was appointed to management in 1972, he had to steer the ship through some choppy seas. The winery was owned by an Indian beverage company, but Patrice Monmousseau was able to take it back into the family once again. The fact that Crémant de Loire and Saumur Brut have become well-known and popular sparkling wines in Germany is a testament to his business acumen.
González family, González Byass, Wine Family of the Year
The González family, and the González Byass family business, have been in existence for almost 200 years. Sherry has been the core competence of the company since Manuel María González founded a sherry cellar in 1835; the Tio Pepe brand is the bestselling Sherry on the market. When the Sherry category began to face a crisis, chairman Mauricio González Gordon came to the rescue with new ideas, such as an annual premium collection. Of late, these efforts have paid off, as Sherry sales are growing again. The company also has a number of high-quality wine brands in its portfolio, and the family has acquired top vineyards in Spain, Chile and Mexico. The company also produces a notable range of spirits. Above all, González Byass is dedicated to sustainability.
Willi Bründlmayer, Bründlmayer Winery, Honorary Prize
Austrian star winemaker Willi Bründlmayer from Langenlois received the jury’s Honorary Prize. prize of honour. Willi Bründlmayer certainly deserves to be called an exceptional winemaker. He promoted organic viticulture as far back as 40 years ago, because he was convinced that this was the best way to express the character of his sites. He also took a sustainable approach to wine, at a time when the term had very little significance. Now he is recognised as an Austrian wine pioneer, as well as a maker of top wines. He was one of the founders of the Traditionsweingüter Österreichs (Traditional Wine Estates of Austria) association.
Cointreau: Spirit Brand of the Year
Cointreau, the Spirits Brand of the Year, recently celebrated two anniversaries. The company was founded as a distillery by Adolphe Cointreau in Angers in 1849, and the world-famous orange liqueur of the same name has existed for 135 years (1885). Orange flavours were particularly popular at that time and Edouard Cointreau succeeded in creating a very intense and at the same time less sweet liqueur compared to others, still a classic of the bar and cocktail culture today. Skilful marketing and the clever addition of new flavours to the portfolio have contributed to the brand’s success since.
About the MEININGER AWARD
For 20 years now, the Meininger Awards have been presented annually to international personalities in the national and international wine industry. Past winners include Michel Torres, Gina Gallo, the Rothschild family, Fritz Keller and Rotkäppchen.
The organiser is Meininger Verlag, one of Europe’s leading dedicated wine and spirits publishing houses, now owned by the fourth generation.