Sustainability is a complex concept, involving all sorts of compromises and trade-offs. It’s about
doing the best we can for the environment and for our community. But it’s also about remaining a
viable business, growing grapes and making quality wine in a difficult climate. We do what we do
because we believe in it, and because it works. We live and work in this wonderful place and want to
safeguard it for future generations.
This Spring, we took a big step: we installed solar panels on our warehouse and winery roofs. This is
a perfect example of what Tim calls “sustainable sustainability” – we are both reducing our reliance
on fossil fuels, and reducing our costs. Doing our bit to combat climate change, whilst future-
proofing the business against ever-increasing energy costs.
We also undertook an assessment from Malvern Hills District Council for their Green
Mark accreditation. This gave us the opportunity to show all of the sustainable initiatives we’ve got
in place, and, we’re pleased to say, resulted in us receiving the award. Going through this process
reminded us of the many things we now do to make us as sustainable as possible:-
- We recycle our in-bound cardboard, turning it into packaging for our deliveries
- We eliminate all unnecessary labelling materials, and use paper, not single use plastic
wherever possible. We are phasing out the use of plastic capsules on our bottles
- We use lightweight wine bottles when possible – this lowers CO2 emissions associated with delivery transportation
- We minimise the use of non-organic chemicals in both the vineyard and the winery. Because of the challenges of the weather, we need occasionally to resort to chemical protection, but
we have reduced this by approximately 2/3rds during our time here.
- We manage our woodland, vineyard alleys and hedgerows entirely organically and with a
view to maximising biodiversity.
- We have dug ponds, coppiced trees, introduced habitat shelters and hibernaculums.
- We now have 60 different species of birds on our site, as well as 50 types of fungus, 6 species of bat, and numerous mammals and amphibians.
- We celebrate and support our local community, partnering with amazing local craftspeople
and food and drink producers, and being very active in the tourism and food and drink
activities of Worcestershire.
- We reuse waste in every area of our business, whether that is composting vine prunings and
winery waste, giving materials to local artisans to make charcoal, vine wood weavings and
wood turnings, or using spent grape skins in non-wine products. We have recently donated unused corks to a local nursery for craft projects.
Not everything we try works out: the goats didn’t do a very good job of keeping the brambles down
in the woodland, and the sheep were good at grazing the vineyard grass, but also damaged the vines
and the posts!
But we are determined to keep on trying. Happy to fail occasionally, as long as our lovely site
continues to improve and to thrive. Writing this as I look out of the window over a sea of daffodils
into the fresh green of the woodland in Spring, watching a tree creeper and a nuthatch darting
about, it feels like we’ve made a good start.