Can we grow vines in Scotland? The small village of Kippen in Stirlingshire ( blink and you’ll miss it ), was the site of a massive vine in the early twentieth century. It was however planted in a heated glasshouse, of the variety Gros Colman.
Almost on the beach in Fife, Christopher Trotter has a small acreage of vines planted , and after 5 yrs he is hoping to get a harvest next summer and produce the first grape wine in Scotland! The varieties he uses are Solaris Rondo and Siegerrebe, both from Northern Europe. It is a gamble to grow vines this far north, but he has chosen hardy varieties recommended by Vineyards in Yorkshire who have learnt a bit by trial and error. And he is in the warmest and sunniest part of Scotland, and who knows what climate change is going to do to us in the next few decades? It may become too dry to grow vines in the south of France one day. I spent last spring pruning organic vines in the south of France. It is amazing how they thrive in very poor stony soil and with no irrigation all summer. The local shepherd was allowed to pass through during the winter, so the ground gets a dose of organic fertiliser. Sulphur sprays were used to keep mildew at bay.
We have a Black Hamburgh grapevine in our glasshouse, and it never fails to give us a good sweet dessert crop as long as we keep the blackbird out when they are beginning to ripen! Somehow he always knows when they are nearly ready before us.It is important to keep the vines cool in winter, they dont like heat all year.