Your Vine

Some helpful tips on how to care for your Llanerch Vine

How it all began

Historical evidence of viticulture in Britain goes back as far as the Roman invasion of 43AD. After this time more evidence of viticulture is found in the Doomsday Book where 42 vineyards were recorded throughout Britain during Norman rule. The progression of British viticulture, mostly the duty of Benadictine Monastries, largely ceased after the reformation under Henry V111, and the trade agreements between neighboring France made the importation of cheaper continental wines easier.

During Tudor rule beer was the drink of choice for working classes, so farmers opted to grow in-demand wheat instead of vines which were more challenging to grow.

Modern English viticulture began in the 1950’s, today there are more than 500 commercial vineyards in the UK. Llanerch Vineyard, the first modern day Welsh vineyard, began when the vines were planted in 1986, some thirty years ago. Cool climate vine selection, advancements in winemaking practices and the implementation of labelling legislation have all contributed to increasing the quality of wine production in Wales & England. Welsh & English wines have never tasted better with British wines increasingly beating the French in their own sparkling wine blind taste competitions - it’s no wonder why some of the best vineyards have been snapped up in recent years by French wine producers. Eager to future-proof their businesses from climate change, and perhaps stiff competition!

How to care for your Vine plant

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Planting

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Growing

vine icon maintenance

Maintenance

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Harvesting

vine icon planting

Planting

Grape vines are best planted after spring. This ensures that any new growth is not damaged by frost. Plant in a sheltered site with full sun, ideally against a south or south/west facing wall. 

Place small stones around the base of the vine to suppress weeds and help maintain moisture.

Grapevines prefer a soil with good drainage. On a slope and with slightly rocky or sandy soil with a pH between 6.5-6.8. 

Dig a hole twice the size of the tangled roots. Tease out the roots and spread them evenly around the planting hole before filling with soil. 

Plant the vine to the same depth that they were in the pot.

Grape vines can be grown in containers of general purpose potting media; loam-based potting compost is ideal. Use a pot about 30-38cm (12-15in) in diameter and depth.

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Growing

Prepare a trellis for your grapevines. If you are not planting your grapes along a fence or other structure, construct or buy a trellis for them to grow along. Don’t use a single stake (as you might for tomato plants) as this won’t provide enough support for your vines once they start growing. 

Water your newly planted vines during dry spells. Established vines grown outside in the UK will require little watering as they are deep rooted. Vines grown under cover, and in containers, will need regular watering and will also benefit from a high-potash liquid feed. 

Apply a mulch in late winter. Avoid using manure as a mulch as this will encourage the roots to grow towards the surface and may also lead to excessive vegetative growth.

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Maintenance

Major pruning should take place in winter when the vine is dormant. Remove all flowers for the first two years to prevent over-cropping. To ensure large ripe grapes, allow only one bunch per fruiting spur (branch).

When the grapes start to ripen, remove some of the leaves that are shading the fruit so that the sun can reach them. Ventilate your greenhouse or conservatory on warm sunny days.Grape vines grown outside do not need any help with pollination, as the wind does this. Vines grown in the greenhouse will need their branches gently swayed to release the pollen.  In order to start flowering, grapes require temperatures below 5ºC for a period of 4-6 weeks. This is easily achieved outside.

If your vine is container grown, then move the container outside for a few weeks during early winter. If your grape vine is in the greenhouse, then open all the vents during December.

vine icon Harvesting

Harvesting

Major pruning should take place in winter when the vine is dormant. Remove all flowers for the first two years to prevent over-cropping. To ensure large ripe grapes, allow only one bunch per fruiting spur (branch).

When the grapes start to ripen, remove some of the leaves that are shading the fruit so that the sun can reach them. Ventilate your greenhouse or conservatory on warm sunny days.Grape vines grown outside do not need any help with pollination, as the wind does this. Vines grown in the greenhouse will need their branches gently swayed to release the pollen.  In order to start flowering, grapes require temperatures below 5ºC for a period of 4-6 weeks. This is easily achieved outside.

If your vine is container grown, then move the container outside for a few weeks during early winter. If your grape vine is in the greenhouse, then open all the vents during December.

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Why not get a taste of your grapes with our wines made from the grapes grown at Llanerch Vinyard.

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