Davenport Vineyards has beaten the competition to take home the Amorim Sustainability Award in this year’s international Drinks Business Green Awards. Facing off stiff competition from the lines of Pernod Richard (Spain) and Cono Sur (Chile), the family-run Davenport Vineyards in Sussex took the crown at the ceremony held at The Ivy in London this week.
Will Davenport first planted five acres of vines at Horsmonden in Kent, and the estate has since grown to 24 acres of vines across five parcels of land (in both Kent and East Sussex) and nine different grape varieties. The vineyards and winery have been fully Soil Association certified as organic since 2000, with Will Davenport leading the way for Organic winemaking in England.
"It is amazing, almost unbelievable" said owner Will Davenport. " I knew we were short-listed, but really didn’t think we stood a chance in such company. We’ve won plenty of prizes in the past for our wines, but this award recognises everything we have done – and continue to do – to develop sustainability throughout the business. It is a personal crusade of mine, and something in which I believe passionately. Now I want to use this award to encourage others to embrace green practices wherever they can, and truly make a difference to the environment".
From applying solely green waste compost to the vineyard in areas targeted by an app for vine health, to avoiding herbicides and pesticides and using copper spray only when necessary – to solar panels, LED lighting, an unheated winery where the wines ferment at ambient temperatures, Will has taken every aspect of his winemaking and found sustainable solutions. Lightweight bottles and natural corks are used, with minimal packaging – and the majority of his wines are sold within a 100 miles radius, through les Caves de Pyrennes in Guildford.
While constantly seeking to improve his green credentials – capsules are next in his sights – he manages the farm and headland to encourage biodiversity as an accredited member of the UK’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme, with new ideas for 2019. Somewhere amongst all this, he now lectures on organic and sustainable practices to other vineyard owners and viticulturists, and trains students from Plumpton College.
"This is exactly what we are looking to reward," says Carlos de Jesus, Marketing Director of leading natural cork producer Amorim, sponsors of the Drink Business Green Awards. "At Amorim we know the importance of keeping sustainability at the heart of everything we do –from the cork forest to the sophisticated production lines, large or small. Just as Will Davenport does. We congratulate him on his achievement."
Patrick Schmitt, editor-in-chief of Drinks Business adds: "Making Will Davenport’s English wine business stand out among a slew of extremely strong contenders was the fact that here was an operation where the sustainable approaches to every aspect of the production process were clearly motivated by a genuine love of the land, and what it has yielded to make Davenport Vineyards a success."