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Davenport Vineyards, England – Will Davenport

March 20, 2012

I must say that I am very happy with my work and I know I am extremely lucky to be producing organic wine in Sussex. We are based in a beautiful area of the English countryside and that is part of the reason for managing the vines organically. It always felt uncomfortable to be using chemicals in a place that is so obviously full of nature. Our vineyard is packed with life in a way that some chemically treated vineyards just aren’t. Added to this is the way that vines produce grapes in our climate, which is marginal for producing a quality crop of grapes. There is a feeling that we are working with nature rather than constantly battling against it. We do have to treat the vines with sulfur and copper to combat mildew, but we also spray solutions made from nettles and other plant extracts to enhance the health of the vines.

In response, the vines produce a crop of grapes that have a flavor and structure that (I hope) reflects the particular soils and site that they come from. In the winery we interfere as little as possible with the fermentation so that the character of the fruit is allowed to come through without being lost in the wine-making process. The wines vary slightly from year to year because of the weather in each particular season, but the style and structure remains constant. Most of our wines are fermented with yeast that occurs naturally on the grapes or in the winery atmosphere.

Over the last few years we have been trying to reduce the impact of our wine on the environment beyond just being organic. Our winery now runs on solar electricity generated off the winery roof, we use the lightest glass bottles that we have found, most packing is made from recycled materials and can be recycled after use. Almost all the winery’s waste is recycled or composted back onto the vineyard. The next step is to look at becoming self sufficient for water as well.

Growing organic grapes is undoubtedly more difficult than managing a non-organic vineyard. We have to keep weeds under control without herbicides, maintain soil fertility using large volumes of compost rather than chemical fertilizers, and we are constantly checking the vines for any problems throughout the summer. However, for me, it is certainly worth the hard work. Most important is that the wines are good – there would be little point in making organic wine if we couldn’t be proud of the end product.



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