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Grow Your Own Wine


Hello Nick,
yes, I planted a vineyard last spring, so into year 2 already.
I live in SW France (armagnac country really) and all around they produce very drinkable “cote de gascogne” whites so cheaply it seemed silly to try and compete.
I therefore planted red grapes: Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, plus Malbec and Tannat (main grape of local St Mont and Madiran AOPs) 200 vines each in an attempt to see if I can produce wine of decent quality in low volumes.
In principle one should not produce any wine in the first 2 years, to let the roots get strong. I am tempted to leave 1 bunch on the stronger vines this year just to have a play…
In Kent, if your vines are south facing and back to a wall (as photo) then you could get a reasonable yield if you let the vine grow and climb up the wall, rather than prune back to a pair of shoots each year. Especially in UK you need to reduce the number of bunches very radically when they are as in the picture otherwise they will never mature and have sufficient sugar to make wine. If you are in year 2 (like me) I suggest you trim back to 2 or 3 bunches now then down to one per vine in July (in case some fail). This will leave you with enough to make a couple of bottles in a demijohn, just for fun.
Let’s see how things progress…


Oh yes, and don’t be worrying about “vineyard envy” - after 1 year of pruning, weeding, clipping, spraying etc. I can assure you that for an amateur the optimal size of a vineyard is closer to 2 vines than it is to 500!
(Mistake above, I have 2 rows of 50, so 100 of each cepage).


Since Nick’s vines are growing against a wall I suggest that you just drill a few holes and rawlplug in some galvanised steel eyelets, and thread galvanised gardening wire through these to support the vine.
I don’t recommend a wooden trellis, it makes pruning more difficult and probably won’t be strong enough in the long run as you point out.


Hi Nick. I live on the edge of Kent, in Beckenham, and have recently bought two wines - one a Bacchus, and one a red called Marechal Foch. They are growing but have not flowered yet so expect nothing until at least next year.

I plan to make my own plonk - Chateau Scott 2019 maybe! - so will be interested to hear how you get on.

What equipment have you bought or have you not got that far?


I have some old demijohns from home brewing a few years ago but that’s about it

Perhaps we should form a Co-op!


Bacchus is vinifera and makes a good English crisp dry white wine, TWS have some.

Marechal Foch is a hybrid,and cold hardy which is the (only?) reason why its grown for wine in Canada and northern USA. It hasn’t got the strong distinctive ‘foxy’ taste of some American and hybrid vines, but from the Marechal Foch wines I’ve tasted, I’d say its a bit of an acquired taste


Maybe someone here can help me …

I’m doing a fair bit of remodelling in the garden and it occurs to me that instead of planting other “climbing” plants along a stretch of fence, I could grow a vine.

I have no ambitions or illusions about it producing grapes of any caliber, but it would seem right to have a vine within touching distance.

I’m loathe to buy a generic / hybrid from the local garden centre for the sake of it. It would be nice to at least have something worth pointing to in order to say, “Oh, that? Oh, it is nothing! Just my Pinot Noir / Chardonnay / Tempranillo / whatever


Where might I find a place to buy one or two plants for such a ridiculous idea, and how much would it cost?


It’s not the cost but buying a wine producing variety as a single plant, this outfit supply many vineyards but all is in bundles of 25 as all wholesale growers are, though they may be able to help.


whereas this outfit do supply potted singleplants and they do some wine varieties, they are not a bad firm and have sold good fruit stock for years.



First choice - local vineyard. I got my vines from English vineyards, grafted and potted.

Second choice: Larger garden centres, including Bunnings/Homebase but you need to look for names of vinifera wine varieties.


Nice idea, my project was more about the fun of it rather than producing a grand cru. You never know how it might turn out!

Got our vines here:


They do apparently deliver, they have a range of varieties and even if you don’t buy from them there is some useful info on their website about training etc

Our vines have done really well this year, better than I could have hoped


Victorian Nursery looks good, if a tad pricey. However to find such a range at single plant prices is useful. Initial information on ‘protected cropping’ helps choose, but perhaps @robert_mcintosh should consider Tempranillo and Verjelo given his Spanish flair!!


Typo alert…I meant Verdejo


in future, you can edit your previous comment :slight_smile:

I was actually thinking that. Not sure how easy they would be to get in this country though


Like very easy…


That’s odd. I’m sure when I first visited the link it wasn’t there and was primarily the traditional English varieties that were listed. I wonder whether I was looking at the wrong page.

EDIT: Ah! That’s because I was thinking of the Chris Bowers link and hadn’t realised this was a separate site. Thanks all!

Thanks for this.

Since I’m only looking for 1 or 2 plants, these prices are not astronomical. I’d hate to have to plant a vineyard at these prices though :wink:


I think I would go with grapes that are suitable for eating (as well as wine making) and which can be grown outdoors… Pinot Noir or Chardonnay anyone?


Exactly what I went for, and Victoriana do a “champagne package” with one of each vine. Think you save a quid or so…


Still learning!


When my son bought a house in SE London, he inherited an ancient uncontrolled vine of unknown variety, and planted by a previous Greek owner. Eventually we controlled it to be a hedge around a veg patch. Red grapes, never really matured but loved by the bird population. The garden also had an Olive tree, so we suspect the vine was brought over from Greece but was unsuitable for the SE6 climate.


SE6?? He’s my neighbour then! I’m in SE23

Interestingly, I have found several references to vineyards (usually in large greenhouses) in my Ordnance Survey map from 1896 of the area so it could be older than that!

EDIT: Here’s a detail around Catford Hill (this is from 1915 but the Vineyard / Glasshouse was there in 1890s too)