A glorious evening in the vineyard overlooking the Candover Valley to celebrate a new partnership between Candover Brook and The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.A new partnership between the award-winning, English sparkling wine Candover Brook and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) was cemented last night at a ‘Candover Brook & Canapés’ evening in the vineyard celebrating the area’s famous chalk streams and the little-known, endangered resident: the white-clawed crayfish.
This joint event was attended by local landowners, HIWWT trustees, donors and those passionate about Hampshire’s rivers and chalk streams. Mark & Julian Sainsbury, founders of Candover Brook and Debbie Tann, Chief Executive and Dr Ben Rusbrook from HIWWT were also in attendance.
With only around 200 chalk streams left in the world and most situated in southern England, their preservation and the protection of the crayfish is a key concern. Both stream and crayfish are recognized in the design of Candover Brook’s wine label. The white-clawed crayfish is the UK’s only native species of crayfish, but due to a dramatic decline, it is now an internationally endangered species. It is believed that up to 95% of the UK population has been lost. The North American signal crayfish and the disease ‘crayfish plague’ that they carry is the single biggest cause of this decline.
However, there is hope. In 2022, conservationists from the Trust discovered a cluster of the rare crayfish at Winnall Moors Nature Reserve. This was a remarkable discovery as it was believed the species had vanished from the area after a plague wiped out the local populations 30 years ago. And to further boost the wild populations, last year the Trust, working with Bristol Zoological Society, released 200 white-clawed crayfish into a safe section of the River Itchen’s upper reaches. The Trust has also implemented a white-clawed crayfish project which involves creating innovative arcs, in river headwaters, lakes and ponds, which are able to support healthy, self-sustaining populations of crayfish.
Mark Sainsbury said: “For us, this is an exciting and important partnership as we care deeply about our place in this beautiful landscape. Our wine is named after the chalk stream running through the valley so the wonderful work HIWWT are doing to preserve this precious habitat and protect our emblem, the white-clawed crayfish, is incredibly important to us. We’re delighted to be playing our part in supporting them in their conservation efforts”. Candover Brook has pledged 50p for every bottle sold via the website or within a 15-mile radius of the vineyard to support the project set up by HIWWT to preserve the white-clawed crayfish.
The vineyard was planted by the late Lord John Sainsbury and his sons, Mark and Julian, on a gentle south-facing slope in the Candover Valley in 2012 and the first wines were released only last year. Both the Brut and the Rosé have achieved high acclaim scooping a raft of national and international awards including the International Wine Challenge’s Best English Sparkling Wine (Classic Blend) and Wine GB’s Best Regional Producer (Wessex) and Best Newcomer as well as a Gold from Decanter.
Mark Sainsbury added: “as a young brand we are delighted with our recent award success and excited about what the future holds. At Candover Brook we live by our values and our partnership with the HIWWT is the perfect expression of how important the surrounding landscape and its ecology is to us”.
Debbie said: “The Trust is absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with Candover Valley Wines who are generously supporting our work to conserve the endangered white-clawed crayfish, now found in just a few of our precious chalk streams. Partnerships like this are crucial to the work of the Trust.
“We have ambitious goals to put nature into recovery, creating more space for wildlife to thrive so it can recover from decades of decline. But we are a charity and have limited resources. So, we rely on the support of corporate partnerships, individuals, charitable trusts and the wider community to support this vital work.
“I would like to thank the team at Candover Valley Wines who are not only helping to support the Trust but are also making huge strides on their own estate to farm regeneratively and bring nature back.”