London latest in UK vine planting surge

6th August, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt

Vienna is no longer Europe’s only wine region that doubles as a metropolis – London is now home to a number of vineyard start-ups.

London_skyline_lead

London is now home to a number of vineyards

Among the new projects in the capital is Enfield’s Forty Hall Community Vineyard, part of a 200-acre estate which features a 10-acre planting of primarily Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay for sparkling wine production.

As reported in the July edition of the drinks business, it’s hoped 2013 will provide the estate’s first vintage using bunches from inaugural plantings in 2009.

Not only will this vineyard potentially produce London’s first commercial-scale sparkling wine, but it will also be the inaugural organic fizz from the city – although the grapes will be taken to Plumpton College in Sussex to be vinified.

Forty Hall is currently organic, but founder of the project, Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, told db that she is looking into biodynamic viticulture, and planning to use horses to plough the vineyard.

Forty Hall Community Vineyard

Forty Hall Community Vineyard

Other London viticultural ventures include a “micro-vineyard” at Camley Street in Kings Cross, which is planning to produce its first vintage of 200 bottles this year according to Vic Keegan on Londonmylondon.com.

Then there’s Hawkwood Vineyard in Chingford, which is also aiming to release its first vintage this year from a 0.25 acre organic co-operative vineyard, as well as Gallows Vineyard near Wembley and, finally, Clocktower Vineyard in West London.

The latter, which occupies two former allotments in a public park, is managed by Tony Hibbett, who appears to have turned the vineyard into his own version of the Mosel (see image below).

As reported by The UK Vineyard Association (UKVA) yesterday, Hibbett has surrounded his vines in a slate-scree to control weeds and re-radiate heat to the grapes during the night.

Writing to the UKVA, he explained, “Having tried cheap weed control fabric, which does not prevent regeneration of persistent weeds, and bark chips, which get scattered by birds and mammals, harbours pests and progressively decays, I have settled for slate scree, which has a radiator effect.”

hibbert-weed-control

Slate scree at the Clocktower Vineyard. Photo credit: UKVA

Continuing, he noted, “The logistics and expense seemed quite daunting, but I found a supply at half price, which works out at £3 per square metre and is a permanent and effective solution and also retains moisture in the soil.”

We’ll have to wait a little longer to see if the practical viticultural solution imparts any beneficial “mineral” character to the wines.

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