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Seed Swap - Herefordshire

Grow grapes for wine

Four years ago we planted 40 white grape vines on a south facing piece of our garden. They don’t take up a large area, about 15 m x 5 m. We should have had our first harvest last year but, to our dismay, the blackbirds ate them all over a weekend when we weren’t at home. We’re very excited now, because we’re going to harvest our grapes tomorrow. The first job will be to remove the nets that now protect the vines – not too unfair, given the blackbirds still have blackberries, raspberries, red currants, elderberries etc to tuck into. There really isn’t a great deal of work looking after the vines once you’ve planted them and put up the supporting posts and wires – a few hours pruning in winter and the odd hour keeping them tidy in summer. The reward for us will be about 50 kg of grapes, shipped off to Three Choirs vineyard from which we’ll get about 35 bottles next year – we pay them £2 per bottle. We’ve joined in with a group of other small growers so that between us we have enough grapes for Three Choirs to process.

So, got a patch of sunny garden? Enjoy white wine? Then plant some vines this winter. You can take cuttings from a friend with vines of beg some from a vineyard when they are pruning.

2 Responses to “Grow grapes for wine”

  1. Keith - said:

    We grow 2 grapes, Madeleine Angevine – is an early, reliable cropper. It is useful for blending since it ages well and its relative low acidity will blend well with higher acid varieties. On its own it produces wines that are light and fruity with a pronounced muscatty bouquet. & Huxelrebe – is a good cropper with good sugar levels. Can be used for dessert wines because of its susceptibility to ‘noble rot’. It has a high natural acidity and strong aromas of elderflowers, producing very fruity wines that age well.
    Take cuttings this winter and plant out those that take in the autumn. You should get a small crop in the 3rd year and good crops from year 4.

  2. Keith - said:

    A lot has happened in our mini vineyard since my last message in October 2010. In June we had over 30 bottles from our 2010 grapes. What did it taste like? – well, I have to say it is pretty good, medium dry & fruity. Some American friends compared it with their local white wine “viognier”,which is becoming very popular in eastern states like Virginia. We solved the blackbird problem by netting all the vines, time consuming, but worth it. The 2011 crop was disappointing and we are due to receive less than 20 bottles this June. Perhaps the very dry April was the problem or me mulching beneath the grapes too much.