The vine post

Going sustainable – our rhyme and reason, writes Tim Ferris of Vine-Works Ltd.

Vine-Works Ltd is a keen contributor to the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB) initiative, with its own certified sustainable vineyard, producing still and sparkling wine under the Bee Tree Vineyard label. Just as the best wine is produced with the best grapes, the aim of producing sustainable wine begins with sustainable viticulture. In two words, this means we are aiming to satisfy customer demand for a crop that is going to be able to be grown year after year, within its means financially and within its means environmentally.

The environment is rightly the main focus and understandably we cannot expect to produce wine in the UK by bleeding the land dry. Luckily it rains a lot here, so water out – in the form of grape juice – will very rarely, if ever, surpass the volume of water in. This is the mentality required when considering sustainability, looking at both the bottom line or our impact on the environment. 

At Vine-Works, we aim to reduce soil compaction and work to prevent erosion when it rains. In technical terms, this means we encourage our clients to drive vehicles in the vineyard only when it is absolutely necessary. Our vineyard alleyways are planted to hard-wearing grasses and flowering cover crops that have deep root systems to improve the drainage ability of the soil. We encourage our clients to do likewise, with bespoke crafted soil management plans. Continuing in this vein, we take broad spectrum soil samples annually, and we evaluate soil health with aims of improving and maintaining the permanent home of the grapevines that we farm.

Included in our Vineyard Management and Technical Scouting Service, is the option for us to do all the boots-on-the-ground work required to get your vineyard certified as sustainable with WineGB. We help people to create and keep up a vineyard maintenance diary, define their vineyard parcels, implement a vineyard soil and vineyard floor evaluation and management plan, we monitor all the growth stages of the vines, controlling for disease and recording yield estimates ahead of harvest, as well as yield itself and pruning data for the following year, all in line with SWGB requirements.

Camilla Murray is a new team member of ours at Vine-Works, who is completing her Master of Science degree in oenology, viticulture and marketing at the École Supérieure d’Agriculture in the Loire Valley. With a research emphasis on carbon footprinting vineyards in the UK, she is an example of our focus on providing a holistic viticultural service, from brand new vines to the final raw material for fine wine. Camilla is a Vineyard Supervisor, and is one of our team of four Technical Scouts, that includes Daniel Bojan, Vineyard Manager; Charles Martin, Senior Regional Operations Manager/Viticulturist; and myself. We’re a tight knit group with a wealth of knowledge and experience at our beck and call.

The sustainability initiative in this country owes many thanks to Chris Foss for its existence and to the hearty team efforts of the WineGB sustainability committee – of which Bee Tree Vineyard is a member. With a view to “going sustainable”, we will help anyone in any way we can. Successful implementation of sustainability initiatives around the world can be observed in many places. If Vine-Works has anything to do with it, we’d like to see the already threefold leap in SWGB certificate applications this year reach new heights in the years to come.

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