London vineyard hopes for first organic crop

11th March, 2013 by Rupert Millar

London’s first vineyard in more than five hundred years is hoping to reap its debut crop this year.

DSC_0245-23042009-sheepThe Forty Hall community vineyard in Enfield, north London, is a seven-acre estate run entirely by volunteers from the local community.

It is the only sizeable vineyard in the Greater London area, is completely organic and is situated near to Capel Manor – an organic farm run by a local horticultural college.

The vineyard is currently in the process of planting two more acres and project manager, Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, told the drinks business that the vineyard will not get any bigger.

The first vineyard was planted in 2009 but the majority of vines failed to grow, killed off by a “terrible frost”.

A second vineyard planted in 2011 should now produce its first crop this year although Vaughan-Roberts is wary of being too optimistic, “after the summer we had last year who knows what kind of year we’ll have?

“In theory though we should have a small crop,” she added.

Some of the original Bacchus vines survive and have been supplemented by Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Ortega.

The two new acres will add more Bacchus and Pinot Noir to the plantings and Vaughan-Roberts told db that the plan was to make both still and sparkling wine, although, “we will have to see what ripens. It’ll be up to our winemaker (Will Davenport of Davenport Vineyards in Sussex where the wine is made).”

While the vineyard is organic at present, Vaughan-Roberts added that they were looking further into biodynamics as well – including a horse for ploughing and bio-fuel for the tractors.

If the vineyard does go down the biodynamics route it will join the ranks of pioneers such as the UK’s first biodynamic estate, Sedlescombe in East Sussex, formerly profiled by db.

A full profile of Forty Hall Vineyard will appear in the May issue of db.

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