London to produce its first organic wine since the middle agesPosted by Organic Wine Journal on Mar 13, 2013 in Features
From The Guardian:
Forty Hall vineyard is the brainchild of Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, a Hackney resident who studied viticulture and became determined to create an organic vineyard in London. Eventually, she discovered the Jacobean mansion of Forty Hall, owned by Enfield council. Its organic farm, run by Capel Manor, the local horticultural college, had some underused, south-facing slopes with, crucially, light, gravelly soils, unlike the unsuitable heavy clays of most of London. With added lime to deliver the perfect pH, this soil could grow grapes.
Creating London’s first organic wine for 500 years or so has not been straightforward. An acre of bacchus grapes planted in 2009 failed to grow. “Planting was done haphazardly by students and volunteers. We were all learning,” says Mark Mendes, a former science teacher and volunteer. “The second field was much more successful.”
This field, poised to deliver its first crop this year, was planted in 2011 by a German team with laser-guided equipment, funded by lottery money and other grants. (The day after, the Germans headed off to Windsor to plant some vines for the Queen.) “You can see the straight lines on Google Earth. It’s fantastic,” enthuses Mendes.