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Durban - Any wineland trip these days is likely to uncover ducks and geese roaming the vineyards, indigenous plant life surpassing alien vegetation and vines that may not look quite as neat and tidy as one might expect.

The growth globally for a return to more environmentally friendly produce has spurred a rise in organic wines.

Western Cape farmers have wholeheartedly bought into the Botanical Society of South Africa’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) to protect the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Launched in 2009, the Nedbank Green Wine Awards reward and elevate the quality of wines made from organically grown grapes. Last year the competition introduced the BWI category to recognise strides made to conserve the world’s smallest and richest plant kingdom.

Wines produced from organic or BWI vineyards taste no different from conventional wines, but by supporting them consumers are supporting green farming initiatives, an issue that for many has become non-negotiable.

Reyneke Wines owner Johan Reyneke (organic wines) and Bouchard Finlayson owner Peter Finlayson (BWI) recently honoured Durban with a presentation of the winning green wines.

The Reyneke Reserve Red 2009 (cellar door price: R320) won the Best Red, the Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2011 (R100) the Best White and the winery the Best Wine Overall for the organic category. The Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2011 (R245) won the BWI category Best Red.

The range of wines crossed sufficient styles and prices to suit every palate – and opened eyes around the room in terms of quality and achievements attained in the South African industry. Both the Stellar Winery Live-A-Little Really Ravishing Red NV (R21) and the Wedderwill 12° 2010 (R40 for a white wine blend) are wines anyone can show off proudly for casual gatherings.

The Bloggers’ Choice awards went to the Green Shebeen Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (R35) and Gabriëlskloof Magdalena 2010 (R99) while the Gabriëlskloof, a semillon-sauvignon blanc blend that will cellar for another three years or so, was also the Best White in the BWI category.

The Paul Cluver Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2012 (R180) scooped the BWI Best Wine Overall award.

In Nedbank’s words, it is honouring not just top producers, but wineries excelling in water management, energy conservation and eco-tourism. For consumers, it is an honour to broaden the tasting experience and be richly rewarded. - The Mercury