Every year hundreds of thousands of Brits sign up for the Veganuary campaign – a pledge to embrace plant-based diets for a month and beyond. A record 580,00 people got involved in the 2021 campaign from over 200 countries. A big landmark of the last campaign was the involvement of all of the UK’s major supermarkets in promoting the event, which began in 2014.
And the good news is the wine industry is also getting in on the act producing more and more vegan wines than ever before. One local winery who can claim their vinious offerings are totally vegan are the good people of Fox & Fox vineyard in Mayfield.
Here co-founder Jonica Fox tells me why she was inspired to create great award-winning wines and what makes them vegan friendly…
Are all your wines suitable for vegans and how do you tell if a wine is vegan?
Yes. All of our wines are registered with the Vegan Society so all are appropriate for vegans and vegetarians. The Vegan Society logo is on all of our back labels too [The Vegan Trademark has been helping consumers to establish whether a product is free from animal ingredients since 1990]. You can be 100% comfortable that all our wines meet your ethical standards.
What farming methods do you use?
At Fox & Fox we use natural fertilisers, either plant-based compost or lime-rich soil additions like chalk or limestone. We work hard to grow the healthiest vines we can, we focus on plant nutrition with foliar-feeds derived from seaweed to keep the vines in top form.
Do you filter or fine your wines?
No, we don’t do either – we let time do the work. We make sure we use vegan certified sugar in those years when we need to help the first fermentation along and for supporting the second fermentation in the bottle which adds those all-important bubbles. Taking time adds to the costs but we believe that it’s worthwhile to take extra time and care with the wine-making. We think the results speak for themselves.
What inspired you to become a winemaker and what is your winemaking philosophy?
I started by thinking of myself as a vine grower focusing on growing delicious, richly-flavoured grapes and slowly became more confident of what I wanted for my wines. Our philosophy of winemaking is simple: Minimal manipulation in the winery, let the grapes speak for themselves, make them for everyone to enjoy (which is why they are vegan and vegetarian). Minimal manipulation includes taking time to let wines develop and we don’t do malolactic fermentations. That way we keep as much of the taste of the grapes as we can.
When it comes to dining, how would you pair your award-winning Inspiration Brut Blanc de Gris 2014?
Vegetable tempura with a spicy dip or just fresh limes to squeeze over. It’s also great with vegan Thai food or curries.
Are you listed on the online vegan directory Barnivore.com?
Yes we are! Barnivore.com is the world’s biggest vegan alcohol database, which relies upon its readers to update it whenever possible. They also list the contact details of winemakers, breweries, and distilleries, so that you can easily call up the manufacturers and producers if you are unsure.
ALSO WORTH CHECKING OUT IS…
From the Weald of Kent, this is Davenport’s biggest volume wine, varying from 12,000 to 25,000 bottles (“Depending on the weather!” Will says). Suitable for vegans and organic-certified by the Soil Association.
And Viner’s must-try vegan top pick from boutique winery Fox & Fox in nearby Mayfield
Great work from winemaker Will Davenport, who made all Fox & Fox wines up to, and including, the 2018 vintage. Jonica informed me that Bolney Wine Estate took over from the 2019 vintage and that they now ‘make our wine under our close and specific direction and to our style just as Will [Davenport]’ did before.
“This is our unique English sparkling wine, probably the first commercial Pinot Gris (PG) fizz made in the UK,” Jonica tells me.“It celebrates the wonderful, rich and ripe PG that we grow here in East Sussex.There is a small addition of Chardonnay too from the parcel immediately beside the PG, just to lift the finish.”
Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine
Grapes pic: © Katerina Kovaleva/dreamstime.com