Peckish passersby or greedy birds crush Richmond wine dream
Peckish passersby or greedy birds have crushed Richmond’s chances of producing the first English wine in the area since the 18th century.
Grapes for the wine were due to be harvested last Friday, October 5, but bosses at Red Squirrel Wine woke to find more than 70 per cent of the grapes had been plucked from their stems.
Nik Darlington, 26, founder of online wine merchant Red Squirrel Wine, was teaming up with Green & Blue, a wine bar and shop in East Dulwich, to pick the grapes.
He said: “It is disappointing because it would have been quite fun. I don’t think anyone was mendacious enough to steal the grapes – I think it was just greedy birds.”
After they were due to be picked from the vines outside Red Squirrel’s central headquarters in St James’s Cottages, Richmond, the grapes would have been fermented to make a small amount of wine.
Mr Darlington estimated the vines had been there for about 40 years judging by the thickness of their trunks.
He has lived on St James’s Cottages for three years and noticed the vines were producing healthy bunches of red grapes year after year.
He said: “I just walk past it every day and the last couple of years I thought we could do something with this.”
The vines are just minutes away from The Vineyard, where wine was produced in the 1700s.
Mr Darlington said: “What we wanted to do was raise awareness that the local area used to produce its own wine.”
He added the depleted vines were a trend across Europe, with crops across the continent showing a decrease in yield by as much as 70 per cent because of poor weather conditions.
Mr Darlington said he was keen to try again next year and urged people in the area to donate excess grapes to create a London wine.
He said: “We are now appealing to anyone who has surplus grapes to give them to us so we can make some wine at least from London. Roughly 1kg of grapes makes a bottle of wine.”