Churchill’s Port – A New Image for a New Decade
Churchill’s is a boutique producer of premium Port and Douro wines founded in 1981 by master blender Johnny Graham, whose family has produced wine in the Douro for six generations. Churchill’s is the last independent British port shipper and a family-run business. They are a team of just 40 people producing 50,000 handcrafted cases each year, guided by Johnny’s founding desire to use top-quality grapes and simple methods to make distinctly elegant port and Douro wine. They believe less is more, and natural is always better. The minimal intervention approach is core to Johnny´s philosophy of winemaking, and part of Churchill’s sustainability commitment as a business.
To mark the start of our fifth decade, Churchill’s launched a new chapter for our portfolio of port and Douro wines, emphasizing Churchill’s longstanding leadership in innovation and minimal intervention winemaking.
Sustainability is a cornerstone of Churchill’s new brand and packaging, in elevating the nature of the Douro from both a design and materiality standpoint. Since 2022, we are employing a more thoughtful minimal packaging and minimal waste strategy, with just one bottle to be used across our range of ports, while moving to optional secondary packaging for our customers, and a reduced range of just two giftboxes for our ruby ports.
The new packaging uses 100% recyclable capsules from a local producer as well as sustainable FSC-certified paper ranges for the labels and packaging, including those made from 15% grape waste and 40% post-consumer recycled fibers. We are shifting to lightweight bottles for Douro wines, representing a 12% reduction in bottle weight across this range that makes up half of Churchill’s total annual volume. We are also opting for a new bottle that will reduce the weight of our port bottles by 20%.
SGD (SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL)
One of the challenges we face as a category is how to re-introduce port to a new generation of drinkers. We believe we need to make port a desirable icon of luxury and beauty as this generation defines it – and we know sustainability of our communities and planet is a fundamental cornerstone.
Since 1981, Churchill’s practices a minimal intervention winemaking philosophy and we wanted this comprehensive brand reboot to showcase our commitment to reflecting this in every part of our business, from the winemaking to the packaging, from our values to the logistic supply-chain.
This re-brand is the result of a two year process and on-going collaboration across departments, and with our partners and stakeholders. We wanted to get as much information as possible to understand packaging priorities in different markets, the competitive and adjacent landscape, and understand the roots of our company so we could look into its future.
On the bottles, the most important point was to streamline our logistic needs and reduce the glass weight when possible – so we moved to one bottle across our range of ports, while reducing the bottle weight by 20%, and we shifted to lightweight bottles for our Douro wines, representing a 12% reduction in bottle weight across the range that makes up half of Churchill’s total annual volume.
In label materials, sustainability credentials and tactility were the most important aspects, whilst at the same time providing an elevated look and feel to our ports and Douro wines. All our label papers are from sustainable ranges. And while they are not sourced locally (there are no Portuguese label paper producers currently), they are all produced sustainable. With our Douro wines, we selected a paper that is made from 15% grape waste and 40% post-consumer recycled fibers. In Portugal, we were the first to use it.
For our bar tops we moved away from plastic, and we selected 100% recyclable capsules from a local producer.
Our secondary packaging is now optional for our customers and they can choose from generic boxes in order to reduce references by product. This allowed our partners to also think sustainably and encourage their clients to reduce waste at the point of sale. The new packaging uses only sustainable FSC-certified paper ranges.
Overall, the outcome is very positive, both in supply-chain efficiencies, as well as press and clients´ feedback.
A re-brand project implies exchange and collaboration from all perspectives, spanning business, marketing, people, technology and beyond. It is key to have everyone’s feedback and involvement as early as possible to ensure we have not missed anything major before taking decisions. In regards to packaging, we realized sustainability is a big word and it is sometimes very difficult to measure actual impact. However, we can say confidently that our decisions were always made based on a “less is more” philosophy and being as sustainable as possible: questioning whether we really need materials and selecting suppliers who shared the same vision as us, who can evolve with us in the future.
We keep looking out to see what’s new, how we can be more sustainable and more efficient and if and when we can choose to source locally even more. Unfortunately the current year has brought a new series of challenges, with material shortage across all our packaging suppliers, which has showed the need to adapt, both in materials and suppliers, and to think outside the box when it comes to different solutions to take our products to market.