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London's first organic wine since the Middle Ages?

March 08, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Volunteers prune grapevines at the Forty Hall community vineyard in London.
Volunteers prune grapevines at the Forty Hall community vineyard in London. (Graham Turner )

With the surging interest in natural wines, a budding vintner in London is jumping into the fray at Forty Hall community vineyard in the borough of Enfield. The Guardian newspaper reports that the only commercial vineyard inside the M25 motorway that encircles London is hoping to produce London's first organic wine since the Middle Ages.

In this climate of bone-chilling cold, it's a challenge. This month, the Guardian's Patrick Barkham reports, 50 volunteers will prune 7,000 vines by hand. Then comes "bud-rubbing" to remove excess buds, weeding, mowing and more weeding, and constant vigilance.

"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," Barkham writes. "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."

With Will Davenport of Davenport Vineyards, she hopes to produce a still white and sparkling wine this year and a rosé and red in the future.

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Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

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