It seems strange to be planting a vineyard in central London, but wine does grow in bad and rocky soil...so who knows. It may end up being the next Robert Parker 100: Chateau Alara. Even if it doesn't quite reach that height, it's a point well made: encouraging people to explore the possibilities of turning wasteland into productive food (and wine) growing areas.
An enthusiastic group of hard-working wine growers showed up behind Alara Wholefoods' warehouse on an industrial site near King's Cross train station. Alara Wholefoods make organic muesli and are the first food company in the UK to go zero waste, as well as making a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2010.
They have already created a permaculture garden behind their warehouse, cleaning out rubbish, planting trees and growing over 50 varieties of plants, from pomegranates to aloe vera, along with 3 beehives, and a wormery and a company compost heap. Now they will add a vineyard to their accomplishments.
They planted 20 vines of the Ronda variety; one that grows well in the English climate and makes a good red. With the first harvest taking place in autumn 2011, the grapes will be taken to the Bookers Vineyard in West Sussex, to be pressed and turned into wine. They are hoping that these will produce about 100 bottles of wine per year, to be sold at Acorn House restaurant.
They were helped and advised by the Urban Wine Company who claim "‘Many people think that the UK is a terrible place for grape growing but they couldn’t be more wrong, and there exists a considerable range of both white and red grape varieties that grow well – there is nothing better producing wine through the power of the collective and its community."
Enter the Urban Wine Company, a collective for local growers all over London. Supplying interested people with the vines and a collective harvesting; wine making takes place with their guidance and everyone's grapes. Later you drink with your new-found wine friends. And enjoy. Alara Organic