London’s only vineyard to yield 20 tonnes of grapes after summer heatwave boost

The sizzling summer has boosted harvest at London’s only commercial vineyard — with yields rocketing four times higher than its previous record.

Forty Hall estate in Enfield is expected to yield about 20 tonnes of grapes this year, compared with a little under five tonnes last year. Boosted by the heatwave in June and July, it will churn out some 20,000 bottles of wine, about half of which will be sparkling.

Across England growers are expecting a record harvest of grapes and the best-quality domestic wine for 30 years.

Volunteer pickers will put in extra shifts to gather the bumper crop spread over 10 acres in the grounds of Grade I listed Forty Hall manor house.

The vineyard is a not-for-profit social enterprise run by locals. Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, who founded it in 2009, said: “Last year the cold weather meant the vines didn’t fruit well so they had a rest, plus they are maturing.” They are expected to produce a much higher quality wine this year due to the warmth.

“The acidity levels are good and sugar levels are high, which means we don’t need to add any different varieties,” Ms Vaughan-Roberts said. Her crate supplier has been inundated with requests — indicating harvests all over the South-East will be strong: “I think it’s going to be an amazing year for everybody.”

So far about 40 people have picked almost 10 tonnes. Picking was scheduled until next Thursday but volunteers may be needed into October. There is a waiting list to join up at the vineyard, located on Forty Hall Farm. One volunteer, Paul Sadgrove, who retired after 33 years in the civil service, said: “This suits me. Working outside with others is great.”

English wine production is booming. Last year champagne maker Taittinger undertook its first planting on UK soil, near Chilham in Kent. Trade organisation Wine GB predicts annual bottle production will soar from six million last year to about 40 million by 2040.

Forty Hall Farm, run by Capel Manor College, also has an orchard, forest garden, market garden and rare-breed livestock. Its 2016 vintage will be out next week. Sparkling costs £28.99 while Ortega and Bacchus sells from £13.99 at the farm shop or wine is organic and vegan .
London’s only vineyard
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