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Utilise Plus Event Report: Sustainability Tour of Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking
On a crisp November morning, delegates made their way to Dorking for a Sustainability Tour of Denbies Wine Estate. The event was held as part of the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC’s ongoing Utilise Plus programme, which helps small and medium sized enterprises to reduce their costs and Greenhouse Gas emissions by saving energy.
The SBP CIC’s Programme Manager, Jack Dale, introduced the event by outlining the various services on offer through Utilise Plus, including grant funding, energy audits, networking events, and educational workshops. Jack then handed over to Chris White, Denbies’ CEO, who discussed their approach to sustainability. Denbies has an impressive commitment to sustainability: they have planted over 1,500 trees to extend its woodland area, experimented with bio-diesel fuels for their vineyard tractors, use low-flush toilets throughout the main building, and encourage their staff to be environmentally friendly with a cycle to work scheme – and much more!
Chris explained that getting the balance between being a commercial vineyard and a site for wildlife is very important to them, so in the last year they’ve introduced over 20 beehives and various bat boxes. In addition to this, they make wine for other vineyards to ensure they maximise their wine-making machinery and prevent any other crops being wasted. Despite these measures, Chris acknowledged that they’re still “not perfect” and that they strive to improve constantly. For example, upon discovering that much of their waste glass that they thought was being recycled was actually going to landfill, they decided to instead break all their glass down into sand which they can then use on-site as grit.
After Chris’ talk, it was time for a behind-the-scenes tour of their winery! Led by Eva, we got to see Denbies’ wine-making process first-hand. The grapes are usually harvested in October but this year, due to the warmer than expected summer, they were harvested in September instead. Eva explained that the wine is kept in French oak barrels as English oak is too dense and can affect the taste. At the end of the tour, we were treated to a wine tasting which went down very well!
With the tour over, the event ended with networking over light refreshments. Delegates enjoyed the event, with Mike Connick of Connick Tree Care describing it as “friendly and helpful,” while Ellen Corke of Prenplants Sussex called it a “great insight,” and Richard Piggott of The Homity Trust commented that it was “great to see sustainable business decisions being taken in this sector.”
This event was fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). At the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC, we love hearing from passionate speakers, interesting venues, and enthusiastic event partners. If you’d like to work with us then please get in touch.