A vintage Vin de Huddersfield would be really grape news!
Aug 2 2008 by Our Correspondent, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
`I wonder when an astute land owner with a south facing field in the Holme Valley is going to risk a small fortune on planting up the first vineyard in our area?`
I AM sure that, for those readers over 45, the home-made wine era of the late 1970s and 1980s will bring back memories, a few of which might be happy ones.
I know that I got dragged into wine making and even home-brewing of beer at one stage, with all the paraphernalia that went with this ‘hobby.’
Between my wife and I, we tried dandelion flower wine, elderflower wine, rhubarb wine and we even found a recipe for birch sap wine but were never quite tempted to hack a hole in the trunk of our favourite birch tree to harvest its springtime bounty of sap.
Of course, we are all now much more sophisticated and buy our wines from the supermarket, pretending that we are connoisseurs of Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon. I think the ‘con’ is probably as close as most of us get.
What, you may be asking has this got to do with gardening?
Go and see the newly-restored vinery house at Helmsley Walled Garden, with its developing vine collection, provided by Stuart Smith, one of the countries leading viticulturists (www.thevinehouse.co.uk) and you will see what our Victorian forefathers did about growing grapes for wine production and dessert eating.
As climate change takes us down an uncertain route into the future, with environmentalists and climatologists arguing the toss about what is causing it and how we can slow down its effects, British vine growers are increasing in number and acreage as every year passes, taking advantage of the progressively milder winters and supposedly warmer, longer summers.
Up until about two years ago, Leventhorpe Vineyards near Leeds, owned and managed by George Bowden (0113 2889088) was considered to be one of the most northerly vineyards in Europe, producing what some have called Chateau Leeds.
Two years ago, Ryedale Vineyards (www.ryedalevineyards.co.uk ), north of York, planted its first tentative acres and now has 10 acres planted – it is probably going to make a claim to be the most northerly commercial vineyard when it gets its first good harvest this year.
I wonder when an astute land owner with a south facing field in the Holme Valley is going to risk a small fortune on planting up the first vineyard in our area?
Take a look at www.ukvines.co.uk to see the extent of vineyards across the UK.
In the meantime, those of us with less foresight will have to continue with our demijohns, a few rowan berries, some succulent hedgerow blackberries, a few elderberries that we manage to get to before the blackbirds, a bag of sugar and a few sachets of yeast.
During the next six weeks or so, there will be a glut of regional and local flowershows (send details to me at the usual address in good time and I will let the rest of Huddersfield know about them) and you can be sure that some of the classes will be for home-made produce, including wines, conserves, jellies and other delights made from our native and garden produce.
We may have to wait a little longer for Vin de Huddersfield to be seen on the shelves of our local shops and supermarkets but, if you have an unheated glasshouse, why not plant a grape vine and you could be the first person in Huddersfield to lay claim to the label of Vin de Huddersfield.
I look forward to receiving my complementary bottle when it has matured for a decade or two!
l If you have any questions or information for my gardening diary, then send them to me at the usual address, care of: Features Department, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Queen Street South, Huddersfield, HD1 3DU.