Michael Back of Backsberg Estate Cellars has received The Drinks Business' Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the environment, sustainability, ethical practices and education.
Underlining its green credentials, and just ahead of the farm’s centenary in 2016, Backsberg also walked off with the Amorim Sustainability Award for Wine at the annual The Drinks Business Green Awards ceremony.
Michael Back is renowned for challenging convention in terms of environmental action and sustainability, and respected for his community work and passion for social responsibility. Michael joined his father at the farm in 1976, after graduating in Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University.
Upon hearing of his award while travelling in India, Michael said: “This is such an honour to accept and an acknowledgement of what we have already achieved but we are actually only at the beginning of our journey. There’s still so much more work to be done.”
In 2006, Backsberg became the first carbon-neutral winery in South Africa and the third in the world. The focus on the farm for the past decade has been on reducing the emissions impact through reduction in fuel and electricity usage. At the same time, Backsberg initiated an environmental impact study, and has made sustainability core to the business. The farm is developing biomass energy crops and the cleaned methane from the bio-digester will be harnessed to power converted farm vehicles and an electricity generator.
Michael’s son Simon, the fourth generation at the farm, collected the award on his behalf at the ceremony in London. “This is a very special honour for my father and I am delighted to be here to collect not only this award but the Amorim Sustainability Award too. I know my father would want to say that this is a Backsberg team effort. We are committed to driving sustainability and both these awards are great recognition for our commitment to serving the environment.”
The Drinks Business Green Awards are the world’s largest programme to raise awareness of green issues, recognising and rewarding those who are leading the way in sustainability and environmental performance.