Every aspect of Rathfinny is rooted in our sense of place.
Without our Sussex Vineyard, we wouldn’t exist. Our remarkable site offers the perfect conditions for growing high quality grapes for our sparkling wines. For us, it’s not just about making hay whilst the sun shines in our beautiful corner of the world, we’re developing a 100-year plan and taking measures to ensure we tread carefully on the land.
With the help of Carbon Jacked, we measured our carbon footprint in line with the highest international standards. It wasn’t straight forward as we’re a complex business when you think about it –we span agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality and administration. Whilst we have a strong presence in Sussex, our distribution extends across the country and we’re launching into new international markets each year.
We have planted more than
Carbon Jacked have used some of the most robust standards for our carbon accounting, namely the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and sought to measure the impact of the entire business rather than just the product. Even though the Vineyard and all its 385,000 vines and 7,000 trees that we’ve planted sequester carbon, as does the soil, this isn’t accounted for as it is in less stringent calculations. If it was, we’d have off-set around 470 tonnes of carbon!
We have 1,320 Solar Panels, equal to
31,000 trees or 567 tonnes of CO2
We’ve reviewed our electrical suppliers and worked with Brighton Energy Cooperative (BEC) to install more solar panels which will generate power for the winery buildings, shop and accommodation. We’re also working with their sister organisation, Brighton and Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo) to look at a community application for a wind turbine that will not only help the environment, but also benefit our local community.
Waste Collection: Recorra
We’ve engaged a new waste collection service called Recorra who commit to the following standards:
- NOTHING goes to land fill.
- Food waste, if any, will be converted to biogas and biofertilizer.
- Provide staff training about recycling.
- Investment in electric vehicles.
- Provide detailed reporting on what waste we are producing, broken down by materials.
- Collect other items like batteries, coffee pods & printer cartridges.
- Remove hazardous waste and PPE.
OUR VINEYARD INITIATIVES
- To reduce our tractor miles and encourage biodiversity, we’ve let the grass grow freely around the Estate and between the vines. It also increases the organic matter we can add back into the soil.
- We’ve invested in under-vine weeder to help decrease our use of herbicides.
- Completed a biodiversity assessment of the site in conjunction with Buglife.
- Working with the South Downs National Park as part of the Changing Chalk project to restore natural chalk downland on our North-facing banks.
- Working with Buglife as part of another Changing Chalk project. Sustainable Vines and Landscapes for Wild Pollinators, to encourage pollinators into vineyards
- We are part of the South Downs National Park Environmental Stewardship Scheme (from a farming and chalk grassland viewpoint).
- We are using the most fuel-efficient tractors in their class and are investigating the use of electric.
- Working with South East Water to monitor water quality and how different farming affects the groundwater.
- Established beehives in conjunction with a local beekeeper
- Developed habitats to increase biodiversity in both the vineyard and surrounding farm area
- Use organic certified seaweed extract from a UK source to further reduce reliance on chemical fertilisers.
- We are also part of the Eastern South Downs Facilitation Group which has the following environmental priorities: 1) Historic environment 2) Nature recovery 3) Water quality 4) Soil health. We are part of the farm carbon project benchmarking and improving soils.
What do you do when environmentally-friendly alternatives cost more?
For instance, packaging tape can cost £1.20 for a standard roll versus £3 if it’s made from 100% recycled material. For a business that has still to break even, this is a very real dilemma. We try to take a practical approach. If it’s a small difference and manageable within the budget, we do it. If it’s a bigger expense, we discuss and decide together. Talking things through brings everyone into the decision-making process.