Environment and Sustainability Policy & Action Plan 2023-2024

by Chris Haywood

Mar 21

Since taking over the vineyard in 2017 we have had a clear ethos. We believe that Astley Vineyard is not just a wine making destination but should be a sanctuary for nature, a catalyst for community development, and a forerunner in environmental stewardship. We are committed to protecting and enhancing our estate and the environment in which it is set. Astley Vineyard is in the River Severn Valley and next to Shrawley Woods; the largest area of small-leafed lime tree woodland in the country with Special Scientific Interest status.

We recognise our environment is increasingly susceptible to damage through growing visitor numbers and climate change and acknowledge our responsibility to maintain and protect these environments, both by carefully considering and mitigating our direct impact, as well as promoting and supporting positive actions on the part of our customers.

We are therefore committed to continuously reviewing our environmental impact and taking steps to reduce it wherever possible. To fulfil this commitment, we will:

  • Encourage our team, visitors, volunteers and wider stakeholders to consider their environmental impact and suggest improvements.
  • Implement small changes to our practices immediately and plan more significant changes in a regularly updated action programme.
  • Promote and explain our environmental plans and actions.

We continuously aspire to reduce our carbon footprint and hope that our activities might encourage and inspire our visitors. We know that sustainable tourism protects the environment, supports local communities, conserves resources, minimises pollution and protects the planet for future generations. As part of that commitment we have achieved GREEN MARK status with Malvern Hills District Council

We continuously evaluate our progress, taking feedback from guests and other stakeholders on any actions we may be able to take to reduce our carbon footprint. We constantly looking at innovative methods of improving our environmental awareness and that of our guests and we always comply with requirements of legislation and approved codes of practice.

A:  Sustaining biodiversity and nature

Astley Vineyard is a diverse estate – as well as the vineyard, there are with many mature trees in our wooded valley, old hedgerows, a natural stream, and it is rich in birds and wildlife. We are actively working to enhance its potential to support biodiversity and nature and encourage our guests to appreciate the environment.

  • We manage the estate organically as far as possible, minimising the use of harmful chemicals and using natural methods to increase soil and plant health.
  • We leave standing deadwood and branch cuttings in wooded areas to provide habitat for insects and ground nesting birds. We have put up bird & owl boxes.
  • We maintain our hedgerows to minimise disturbance to nesting birds. We have identified 62 different bird species living and visiting our estate.
  • We have renovated a small natural pond which supports a broad range of wildlife
  • We have planted trees and bulbs into lawned areas
  • We encourage the enjoyment of nature and wildlife by guests visiting Astley Vineyard. There are number of benches discreetly located around our woodland so visitors can listen and observe our wildlife with tree and bird identification sheets at information stations.

B:  Recycling Resources

  • We try to keep refuse to a minimum and recycle whatever is possible including paper, cartons, cardboard, plastic waste and glass bottles. We have a shredding machine that recycles cardboard into wine packaging. We have donated unwanted corks to a local school.
  • We aspire to reduce the paper and cardboard consumed in running the business and most administrative work and communication with guests is digital, to save paper.
  • Delivery pallets and old vineyard posts are reused in a variety of projects such estate landscaping and garden furniture.

C:  Cleaning sustainably – Environmentally friendly cleaning products are used wherever possible.

D: Using energy sustainably

We do whatever we can to reduce energy consumption and use sustainable energy sources. In the last two years we have.

  • In 2023 we installed solar PV systems on to the roofs of our winery and warehouse and generate electricity for export back to the Grid. We also installed a battery to store generated electricity for use at night. This has reduced our energy costs by 66%.
  • In 2022 we have replaced the air-conditioning unit in our wine warehouse with a more efficient modern model.
  • All our electrical equipment and machinery are “A” or “B” rated for energy efficiency.
  • We have installed motion sensitive outdoor lights around our car park and in our visitor bathrooms.
  • We have added insulation to the roof of the winery to better manage temperature changes without using mechanical alternatives.

D: Sustainable procurement

Wherever possible, we work with partner businesses within a 20-mile radius. Here are some of our most recent examples;

  • The visitor benches in our Wine Garden are supplied by Worcestershire based Wyre Community Land Trust, with wood from sustainably managed forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council standards.
  • Cheese on our Tasting tours is sourced from a Worcestershire producer, Croome Cuisine
  • In our vineyard shop, we retail products from local small businesses such as beer from Nothing Bound, gin by Piston Distillery and cider from Little Pomona.
  • Our wine labels and website are designed by Worcester based business, We Are Beard
  • Our business insurers are Sentio, also Worcester based.

We are working hard to reduce the use of non-recyclable packaging, and replace disposable items

Environmental Action Plan 2024/2025

We are committed to the following three key actions for this coming year:

  1. Assess the costs and benefits of installing an electric charging point for estate and visitor vehicles
  2. End use of plastic capsules on wine bottles
  3. Continued partnership with the University of Worcester on improving biodiversity of vineyard through wildflower planting, including maintenance and data collection

Actions taken 2023/2024 :

  1. Installation of PV panels and battery on winery
  2. Partnership with University of Worcester to host research into improving biodiversity with planting perennial wildflowers between rows in the vineyard.
  3. Sourcing lighter weight wine bottles – less glass used and lower transportation cos benefits.

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