Series: Dreaming of owning a vineyard – Issue: Top 5 tips for selecting the right vineyard land

 In Vineyard establishment

In our ‘Dreaming of Owning a Vineyard Series’ this month our experts provide their top 5 tips on one of the most important parts of setting up a vineyard – ‘The Land’.

A successful vineyard in England and Wales starts with the right land. With conditions for growing grapes in the UK still marginal the vineyard site plays a critical part in this. Our Vinescapes climate and viticulture expert Dr Alistair Nesbitt together with the University of East Anglia have identified nearly 33,000 hectares of prime viticultural land for new and expanding vineyards within the UK. Some of this land rivals the Champagne region of France in terms of viticultural quality and with rising temperatures English Sparkling wine is on track to challenge Champagne. You can read the full paper here.

Planting a vineyard is a significant investment and it is important to get this right from the start.  We would advise that a viticultural expert should always visit the land to fully assess its characteristics and provide an overall recommendation however below are the key things to consider to determine suitability.

Our top 5 tips on selecting land for a vineyard:

  • The land should be Southerly facing – to benefit from optimum sunlight exposure.
  • Not too high or exposed because elevation and wind reduce vineyard temperatures and disrupt vine canopies and flowering. A slight breeze on the other hand is helpful in mitigating disease pressure.
  • The soil should be free draining, it doesn’t have to be chalk but vine roots don’t like to be water-logged.
  • Determine if the site is prone to early season spring frosts. Frost is one of the biggest challenges in UK viticulture. Choosing a site without significant frost risk is the best place to start and historic frost occurrence can be modelled and mapped using VineMAP software.
  • Seek professional advice to understand if your land is suitable for vines, each site has different characteristics and it’s important to very carefully consider all the various attributes together to determine if the land is suitable.

If you are keen to plant a vineyard we would be happy to provide you with an initial 20 minute consultation with Dr Alistair Nesbitt to determine the next steps. Please contact us / 01306 733960 to arrange this time.

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