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    Vineyard planted at Harper Adams University

    Posted 7 June 2023

    A stock image of red wine in glasses

    Vines have been planted to establish the first vineyard on the Harper Adams University estate – with the grapes ready to produce wine within two years.

    The vines were planted under the watchful eye of Professor Frank Vriesekoop, Adjunct Professor in Food Biotechnology, and with the guidance of Martin Vickers, the founder of the Halfpenny Green Wine Estate in Bobbington, near Bridgnorth.

    As the vines develop, it is hoped that they can be used for a variety of uses by the University, not only in the direct production of wine, but also in the development of further teaching around viticulture - or the cultivation and harvesting of grapes.

    Professor Frank Vriesekoop, Adjunct Professor in Food Biotechnology, William Mower, Head of Establishment at Vineworks, and Halfpenny Green founder Martin Vickers review the vineyard planting on the Harper Adams estate.

    Professor Vriesekoop explained that the new vines had been chosen, in part, to adapt to the changing British climate.

    He said: “10 different varieties of vines were planted on a one hectare plot by specialist contractors Vineworks, in order to establish a vineyard at Harper Adams that could be a production vineyard, a teaching vineyard - and a research vineyard.

    “There are two drivers for the increase of viticulture, and winemaking, in the UK.

    “One of these drivers is the development of new grape varieties that provide a mature crop in colder climates.  Many of these new varieties also have a strong resistance to pests that would normally make it very difficult to grow grapes in wet and cool climates like the Midlands.

    “The second driver will be the notion that global warming has shifted the climate enough to even allow more traditional grape varieties to do well in the UK.

    “With regards to viticulture in a time of global warming, the flip side also appears to be true. Some areas, outside the UK, that traditionally generated high-volumes of high-quality wines are struggling with droughts that are thought to be due to global warming.”

    The vines were planted in early May but are already growing well – and Martin, who is a Harper Adams alumnus, believes that their grapes could be producing wine within two years.

    He said: “It was good to see the vines being planted in such ideal conditions. Planting around the country this month has been a challenge with so much rain.

    “Depending on conditions and varieties, if they develop a decent cane by the autumn that is capable of over-wintering, then the first small batch of wine could be ready in 2025, and the first decent cropping year for wine would be 2026.”

    Professor Vriesekoop added: “I’d like to thank Martin and Halfpenny Green Vineyard, who have a very close association with Harper Adams, for their work with us.

    “The Halfpenny Green Vineyard is a family owned vineyard with three generations of the family having attended - or still attending - Harper Adams.

    “The Vickers family has been a very strong supporter for Harper Adams taking on teaching and research related to viticulture and wine making, and we look forward to working with them as our vineyard develops.”

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