At Chilworth Manor Vineyard, our approach to growing vines has developed naturally from the way the gardens and estate have been managed as a whole. At its heart is a vision of sustainability supporting not only the vineyard itself but the wider environment. The countryside surrounding us is a haven for bird and wildlife and is a magnet for walkers, riders and cyclists.
We are a founding member of the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain, a Scheme launched in February 2020. The Scheme is a call to vineyards across the country to establish environmental sustainability as a cornerstone of the UK wine industry.
John, our vineyard manager, is on the SWGB Technical Committee for the viticulture side of this scheme. The Committee works out the guidelines going forward and encourages other vineyards to join the Scheme.
Our major goal has always been to phase out the use of herbicides. We introduced a mechanical hoe to help keep the weeds down under the vines and we maintain grass cover between the rows and around the headlands. This does not only help minimise soil erosion, but also encourages beneficial insect populations.
Electricity used at the vineyard is generated by an array of solar panels and thanks to our geographical situation, no artificial irrigation is necessary! Any water we do use in crop management is collected as rainwater run-off from the vineyard barn roof.
The vineyard borders an extensive area of protected woodland along the Tillingbourne River – home to deer, badgers, foxes, dormice, owls and buzzards. The vineyard is also home to bee hives looked after by a local enthusiast. Our sustainable approach is for their benefit too!