London may not be the place where you would expect to find a vineyard, but London’s full of pleasant surprises and unique experiences like Forty Hall Vineyard, a 10 acre organic vineyard in Enfield.
Run and managed by local people, the vineyard is the first commercial scale vineyard in London since the middle ages. Situated on Capel Manor College’s Forty Hall Farm in North London, Forty Hall Vineyard is certified organic and dedicated to demonstrating environmentally sustainable farming and vine-growing practices.
London’s only commercial-scale vineyard, which opened in 2009, has been producing and selling English still and sparkling wines in small batches. The first very small harvest took place in 2013. In 2016, The Forty Hall Vineyard London 2015 Ortega and Forty Hall Vineyard London 2015 Bacchus were the first wines to be made available for public sale, in a limited release of 700 and 1,500 bottles, respectively.
Forty Hall Vineyard hopes, eventually, to produce upwards of 10,000 bottles of still and sparkling white wine a year. The wine is made naturally using minimal interventions and the sparkling wines are made in the traditional Champagne method.
Established as a small, independent social enterprise, Forty Hall Vineyard also operates as a health and wellbeing project offering volunteering opportunities to local people with a wide range of support needs.
Forty Hall Vineyard said: “People love working out in the open air, being involved in an unusual community project and being part of a large and friendly team. It is hard work and volunteers work throughout the year in all seasons and weather.
“Vines take between 3-5 years to mature and bear fruit and there are many challenges on the way to each harvest including late spring frosts which can damage the fruit buds, drought (hard to imagine at the moment), lack of sun and the ever-present competition from weeds. The vineyard and farm are organic so no pesticides or chemical weed killers are used, making plenty of weeding for the volunteers.”
Vines planted at Forty Hall Vineyard include the Champagne varieties Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and two less well-known varieties for still white wine, Bacchus and Ortega. All these varieties grow well and ripen successfully in the marginal wine-growing climate.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com