Bug Manor at Chilworth Manor Vineyard


A sustainable approach

At the heart of Chilworth Manor Vineyard is a vision of sustainability not only in the vineyard, but across the beautiful countryside that surrounds us, which is a haven for birds and wildlife.

Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB)

SWGB was launched in 2020 to secure sustainability at the heart of the UK wine producing industry. Its six vine-growing objectives are to: maintain and improve soil health; manage vineyard canopies and yields optimally; minimise and optimise pesticide inputs; conserve the vineyard (and surrounding) environment and promote biodiversity; reduce vineyard carbon footprint per hectare; and to reduce, re-use and recycle vineyard waste.

As a founding member, we’ve introduced a number of measures at Chilworth to help us meet these objectives, including mechanical hoeing, grass cover between the rows of vines, solar-generated electricity and rainwater run-off for our crop management. Recent additions to the vineyard are the Bug Manor and further development of our Fertigation system. 

It’s a bugs’ life

It’s not just the vines we think about when we consider how to be more sustainable. Protecting our wildlife is key, as each insect plays a role in improving soil health and increasing biodiversity. The latest addition, therefore, is the Bug Manor Hotel which has been built to encourage wildlife in and around the Vineyard.  Spotted today at the Bug Manor by our Vineyard Manager, John Macrae Brown: a black beetle gaining entry through the first floor windows into the Vine Suite, a solitary bee inspecting the roof, a spider spinning a web around the back of the ground floor and another on the hunt in the Pine Cone Wing! Bug Manor has its first residents!

Moving forward with fertigation

A key achievement in the past couple of years has been the progress we’ve made with fertigation – the technique of supplying dissolved fertiliser to crops through an irrigation system. Traditionally, this is done by spraying crops above ground, using a tractor. We’ve implemented a pipe system that’s both more effective and more environmentally friendly. John Macrae Brown, head of our vineyard team, explains: “Our fertigation system is fast proving to be a great asset, allowing us to target the vines’ nutritional needs in a timely and very flexible way – one benefit that has become apparent this year is the fact that we are not weather dependant when we need to apply a fertiliser. Because it allows us to be independent of tractor and conventional sprayer, we can get on the applications we need despite breezier or wetter conditions that would have delayed us previously. One stress factor for both vine and operator that has been minimised! 

With the plentiful summer rain (!), the shoots have been rocketing up and away and the team has been hard at work ensuring they are all tucked safely into the trellis wires. Now, the task completed, I can hear the distant thrum of the tractor and the whirring of the vine trimmer as our vineyard gets its first ‘topping off’ of the season, helping to divert the vines’ energy into the flowering rather than the upward trajectory. On first inspection, the quality and quantity of flower looks very promising, and we await next week’s rumour of sunshine to help them on their way to fruit set!”