Fizz Facts

The People's Friend Special - - NATURE -

Eng­land and Wales pro­duce some five mil­lion bot­tles of wine a year, and pro­duc­tion is set to dou­ble in vol­ume by 2020.

Sparkling wine cur­rently rep­re­sents 66% of pro­duc­tion.

The most pop­u­lar grape va­ri­eties grown are Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir, which ac­count for nearly 50%.

There are just over 500 com­mer­cial vine­yards in the UK. The most northerly is York­shire Heart Vine­yard, near York.

THE lat­est jaunt for Poppy and me takes us to the Kent and Sus­sex bor­der, an area as­so­ci­ated with hop bines rather than grapevines, and brew­ing beer, not grow­ing grapes for wine.

How­ever, the plant­ing of vine­yards on these sunny slopes is lit­er­ally a grow­ing trend. There are now dozens of grow­ers and wine pro­duc­ers.

We’ve come to a ground­break­ingg vine­yardy in Sedle­scombe, near Hast­ings. This hus­ban­dand-wife-es­tab­lished vine­yard is pro­duc­ing not only or­ganic but also bio­dy­namic wines.

You don’t have to be a wine buff to en­joy a visit to Sedle­scombe Vine­yard. Fam­i­lies ap­pear as we ar­rive, grap­pling with coats. It’s late Septem­ber and the har­vest is nearly upon us.

“We love com­ing here,” one mum says. “The kids can run through the rows of grapevines while we sam­ple some wares at a wine­tast­ing and learn about grape grow­ing.”

Luck­ily, the vine­yard is a dog-friendly as well as child-friendly place.

Vine­yard founder Roy Strong, a man of ma­ture vin­tage, tells the story of his vine­yard.

“The idea to plant vines in our field at Sedle­scombe be­gan in the days of ‘The Good Life’ and our at­tempt to be self-suf­fi­cient.”

Back in the 1970s, just like fic­tional TV cou­ple Tom and Bar­bara Good, Roy was grow­ing or­ganic veg­eta­bles on his own gar­den plot.

He de­cided to branch out and bought a grapevine for his small poly­tun­nel. He learned about viti­cul­ture from a lit­tle book­let called sim­ply “Grow­ing Vines Out­doors In Eng­land”.

“I learned there were al­ready vine­yards in Eng­land and that the site we owned had the right char­ac­ter­is­tics: south fac­ing; cor­rect soil type; ap­pro­pri­ate height above sea level to suit vines.

“We had some chest­nut wood­land, ideal for vine­yard posts, and rolls of gal­va­nized wire left in an old shed by the last owner.”

In those days Roy had no funds to buy vines, so he helped prune some at a vine­yard nearby. He gath­ered up the prun­ings and took them home – at the time a car­a­van parked on his land.

Just some of the wares, and a chance to try be­fore you buy!

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