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Welcome to Vines for Wines

Vines for wines supplies grape vines that are suitable for the UK grower/winemaker.

The site contains few planting hints and tips that a new grower may find useful plus links to a few books and websites that have proved useful.

The vine cuttings and other information have all been provided by Jack Sweeting but your contributions to this site are welcomed.

Factors that influence the choice of grapes grown in the British Isles

There has been a resurgence of interest in growing grapes in the UK and a number of books are available on the subject. Grapes will grow, and more importantly ripen in the UK if you have a good site. Grapes need warmth to ripen and it is said that they do not like standing in water (I have never tried so cannot comment) but other than that they will grow in most conditions and are not killed by winter frost - but it is best to avoid frost pockets as a late frost can damage new growth that may be already in flower.

Grape diseases are normally dealt with at the growing stage and the books give guidance on what diseases you are likely to encounter and how to deal with them. However. One disease is relevant at the time of planting - phylloxera. This is a small creature that feeds on vine roots and causes serious damage. It was responsible for the widespread destruction of European grape vines when it first arrived from America - where the vines had learned to coexist with it. Learn more about phylloxera in the UK.

Most commercial European growers have adopted one of two strategies:

According to DEFRA, phylloxera is locally established in the UK, but is under containment. Either the vineyards have been managed very well, or we have been very lucky or the creature cannot survive in our climate or some combination of all three. In this respect amateur growers in the UK have the luxury of being able to grow European grapes on their own roots if they so choose and there is one school of thought that says grapes grow best on their own roots - as nature intended. Be warned, however, it is important to ensure that the vines are phylloxera free - you would not want to be the person who introduced it into the UK.

The grape that is probably most widely planted in the UK is a variety called Seyval Blanc and can be found in a great many commercial vineyards, including Denbies Vineyard (the largest in the UK). It is a hybrid that can be relied upon to crop well; it has a good flavour and shows good resistance (but not total immunity) to most vine diseases in addition to being able to cope with phylloxera should this ever arrive on our shores. This probably accounts for its popularity. I have personally grown Seyval Blanc for a number of years in the UK and it has coped well with the vagaries of the UK climate and shown so little sign of disease that it is rare for any corrective action to be necessary. I met one commercial grower (with a mixed vineyard) who told me that the only spraying his Seyval got was any left in the tank after he had sprayed the others!

This year I am only offering Seyval Blanc but I am currently conducting trials with several other varieties (including European) to see how they perform - watch this space.