Plot Notes

A personal journal, open for the world to read, recording the progress of a novice allotmenteer on his allotment.

Weed it and reap.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Grape Dilemma: resolved

Having the opportunity to grow things which can be turned into alcohol greatly influenced my decision to sign up for the allotment. This was after my previous wine-making activity was interrupted when the 7 year old vine in my back garden failed to come into bud after the very cold Winter of 2008/9. The old vine went out in a blaze of glory having produced 100lbs of grapes in the previous year from which I had made 10 gallons of wine, a bottle of which won 2nd prize at the local agricultural show.

Vines will form a central part of my plot but over the last few weeks I have been dithering about which variety would best suit my location. I had settled on buying Dornfelder vines. Everything I read seemed to indicate that Dornfelder would be hardy enough for North Lincolnshire and would produce a heavy early crop of deep red grapes suitable for wine making but I had some nagging doubts and never got round to placing an order.

I drove through a very snowy Holmfirth today and remembered seeing a tv programme a year or so ago about a couple who had set up a vineyard on a hillside nearby. I thought that if there was a vine variety which could survive the Arctic-like West Yorkshire Pennine climate it would thrive on my plot which is almost tropical by comparison.

The Holmfirth Vineyard has a website from which it can be seen that their red grape varieties are Rondo, Regent and Acolon and Rondo is their strongest vine.

Despite this massive clue I stubbornly stuck to my decision to order Dornfelder vines. I emailed my order to Derek Pritchard at Winegrowers Supplies in Somerset I mentioned that I would accept Rondo if Dornfelder was not available and I asked Derek to let me know if he thought I was making a big mistake with my choice. Derek knows what he is talking about what with having imported 840,000 vines in the last 25 years and having his own vineyard and winery.

Derek soon put me straight, "Rondo would be by far the best variety for you". It ripens earlier than Dornfelder, is more disease resistant and may require a couple of sprays against mildew compared to the 8 or so that Dornfelder would need.

So, Rondo it is. I have ordered 10 grafted vines and they will arrive in early April. I will put three rows of three vertically trained vines on the plot and the 10th will go against my south facing garden wall at home.


  1. How exciting. I look forward to following your progress with the vines, and ultimately the wine.

  2. I can understand; I've opted to go for pear trees (probably next year) so I can make pear-flavoured booze. I hate the new breeds of pear cider, but I do love Perry, so it makes sense.

  3. Now there's an idea! And there was me thinking just of the food I should grow, never thought about wine :-)

  4. Best of luck with the vines, I have a south facing wall, now there's an idea.

  5. One mention of vines,wine,booze and you had me hooked! We planted a vine in the back garden last year but the badger got to the grapes before us :-( I look forward to following your progress. We have often joked that we would save a fortune if we grew vines on our allotment to keep up with our wine consumption! Can't wait to see how you get on. Our vine is Rondo, which I bought because they had sold out of Regent, rather than it being an informed choice.