14/01/2020 // Paul Edwards, Vineyard Owner
One of the questions which is often asked by our customers and visitors is whether or not our wines are vegan-friendly.
In short, the answer is yes: we produce 100% vegan wine.
You may expect that’s the case for all wines given it is made from the humble, vegan-friendly grape. However, traditionally wine producers have used something called a fining agent to draw out the molecules in wines which result in a hazy appearance.
But this is how animal products make their way into the wine you drink. Typically, fining agents are made from things like milk protein, egg whites, gelatine or isinglass (that’s fish bladder protein to you and me!).
At Saffron Grange, we made a conscious decision to avoid bringing animal products into the wine-making process, by using a cross-flow filter system. Essentially this removes the need for fining agents completely by instead passing the wine through a filter system to remove those haze-inducing molecules, whilst leaving the wine you drink just as crystal clear.
Our commitment to being animal-friendly isn’t limited to just our filtering processes. It is one of our core values and can be seen across our whole approach to vineyard management. Spend a little time at the vineyard and you’ll be amazed by the wildlife, from rare butterflies to our colony of rabbits and shy badgers.
We work hard to promote nature and wildlife by allowing wildflowers to thrive between vine rows and elsewhere on our land. Our chalk mound helps encourage endemic flora and insects such as the Chalk Hill Blue Butterfly to thrive once again on our land – after years of rarity due to the impact of extensive agricultural activity.
We take great pride in managing a vineyard with minimal-intervention and actively encourage predatory insects such as earwigs, ladybirds, hoverflies and wasps, which help to naturally control aphids which can impact vine growth.
The vineyard is also lucky to benefit from a dry climate which puts the vines at lower risk of major fungal diseases such as mildew and botrytis, and the well-draining chalk soil prevents vine root diseases that can be caused by standing water. These vineyard features mean that Saffron Grange has less need for spraying, and we also use natural bacterial sprays wherever possible.
A lot of the work we have done up until now has helped to promote nature by enhancing the local habitat and environment. Aside from planting vines, we have also planted over 3,000 trees to date and intend to plant an additional 500 trees to replenish natural hedgerows which has the dual benefit of both helping shelter the vines from wind, whilst encouraging wildlife to thrive.
The wildlife is increasingly becoming a key talking point on our tours with the butterflies and rabbits almost attracting as much attention as our vines. As the vineyard grows, we will be working closely with our wildlife advisors to cultivate a thriving ecosystem to benefit the local area.