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Sustainability at Oatley

Working with Nature

The vineyard has been managed to promote biodiversity for over 30 years.  Not only has this resulted in a stunning wildlife haven, it has proven to be beneficial for the vines which continue to thrive even after 35 years.  Our approach allows the vines to work with nature to grow the best grapes with minimal intervention. 


A focus on soil health means we do not use herbicide (weed killer) nor disrupt the soil through tilling, both of which can harm the quality of the soil and its ability to capture carbon.  Instead we keep a cover of natural grasses, plants and flowers across the whole vineyard and allow them to come up to seed for the benefit of insects and wildlife, before cutting it back to minimise disease pressure.

Working with nature means the vines have the natural resources to keep going, we don’t apply any fertiliser, spare some very occasional manure when it comes to mucking out the farm horses (two horses are not enough for a whole vineyard!), the clover does a great job of fixing nitrogen, naturally.

The modern term for this approach is ‘regenerative’, there are no hard and fast rules for what that means in viticulture but we like to think of Oatley as a good example of what it can look like after 30 years of practice.


The natural sward means the soil is full of worms and insects which help maintain the soil’s fertility; this results in a huge population of shrews, voles and moles which keep the ground aerated; this keeps the numerous buzzards, kestrels and owl fed throughout the year; an abundance of apex predators is a good sign of a healthy and balanced ecosystem and they’re just nice to have around.


Our hedges are a diverse mix of native species and we allow them to grow, which provides year-round food for the birds and insects, this helps keep birds off the ripening grapes and a plentiful number of butterfly species.

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As well as the regenerative approach in the vineyard, we have always striven to be as sustainable as possible through all our business:

  • Lightweight bottles to reduce carbon footprint 

  • No capsules over the corks to reduce single use plastic

  • No fancy foils on our fizz to reduce unnecessary waste (and precious seconds to the pop!)

  • No shiny metal on our labels - pretty, but not the most sustainable choice

  • Electric power tools, charged by solar panels on the farmhouse, to reduce hydrocarbon use

  • Use plant protection products only when necessary (instead of a weekly regime), to reduce chemical use

  • Planting bird cherry trees and pyracantha to divert the invasive SWD flies that can attack the grapes.  Birds love these too, meaning we have an abundance of Redwing and Fieldfares in the autumn

This is not an exhaustive list and as we learn to adapt to the challenges of climate change we will always be on a journey of continuous improvement.

“If wine was about place, then Oatley offers a glimpse of England as it was 200 years ago.”

South African Wine News

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