Growing vines in the UK has developed considerably in recent years. As a result many new vineyards are being established. There are many reasons for this new found success including a greater understanding of viticulture and the planting of hybrid vines that ripen well in our latitudes.
We planted our first vines at Strawberry Hill Vineyard in 1999 and have continued to expand with further planting each year since then.
One of the founding principles of the vineyard was to produce exclusive fine wines in ways that had not been attempted before.
In 2002 we took the bold decision to plant over and acre of vines in our commercial glass houses. We were unable to locate anyone else in England that grew vines in this way so when it came to growing and trellising we had to ‘write the book ourselves’.
Here at Strawberry Hill Vineyard we have done much to successfully pioneer growing vines under glass and in doing so we have created a climate that is protected from the irregularities that other vineyards experience. We currently produce wine from four varieties of grape that we grow under glass; Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
We have found that growing vines under glass has many advantages and benefits, chiefly that our growing conditions are less affected by the UK’s inconsistent seasons.
The growing year is some four to six weeks longer, temperatures are consistently higher and this has eliminated any risk of frost damage in early spring when bud burst occurs. Loss of fruit from bird attacks is negligible and hostile insects are eliminated by the use of natural predators rather than traditional spraying.
Here in west Gloucestershire we have a well drained, rich Devonian sandy soil plus a favorable micro climate that has encouraged us to plant banana palms and other tropical plants. Our banana palms planted in 2004 have flourished well producing the first bunch of some 100 bananas in the summer of 2007.