It helps, of course, if you’re in the rolling hills of Devon or other southerly climes that attract more than the average share of the UK’s sunshine. Grapes and vines do need warmth and sunlight to develop their fruits and that’s why we see so many wines from California, France, Spain and Australia.
If you inhabit cooler areas of the UK, don’t despair. There are methods of protected growing.
In fact, Gabriel Ash caters for this with its Vinehouse range of greenhouses – see them under our Classic and RHS greenhouse collections. Whilst they can be used for any number of growing purposes, your grape vines should positively thrive there, given the right conditions.
You may be surprised to know there are already 1,400 hectares of vineyards in England and Wales and wine producers from our local shores have gone from strength to strength to win a batch of wine industry awards.
The most popular grape varieties for champagne are pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. Forecasts are that the UK will be producing 5m bottles of sparkling wine by 2020.
The biggest UK champagne producer is Mark Driver, a former investment manager, who runs an estate at Alfriston on the South Downs. He has 160 hectares, 90% of which is still covered with arable crop. 60,000 vines have been planted so far and the whole area will be planted up over the next six years.
Mark’s dream was always to own his own vineyard since he visited New Zealand in 1990. Starting small and aiming for his dream worked for him.
A Gabriel Ash vinehouse offers the opportunity to start small with the peace of mind that the weather won’t interfere with your plans.
Imagine picking your own grapes next summer – start planning your own grape-treading party now!
More about Mark Driver and producing British bubbly is on the Farmers Weekly website at : http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/23/12/2012/136830/England39s-biggest-vineyard-takes-shape-in-East-Sussex.htm