By Paul Teed
A threatened vineyard on one of Epsom’s oldest allotments has been saved after a community group secured sponsorship.
The Alexandra Allotment Group (AAG), based in Alexandra Road, Epsom, won the support of Denbies Wine Estate, in Dorking, in a three year deal.
The 19 rows of 150 vines, which are about 40-years-old, came under threat after the previous plot holder retired and moved to Australia.
Iris Rooney, chairman of AAG, said Epsom and Ewell Council could have been forced to plough up the old vineyard if 10 volunteers had not offered to take it over.
She said: “We don’t know a lot about wines so we went to Denbies Wine Estate and asked if they would give us help. They have been coming out and giving us advice on how to prune and harvest them and how to put up new framework, which we are doing at the moment.
“They hadn’t been pruned properly for a number of years.
“We got about 10 boxes of grapes, which is amazing. They are going to turn it into a communal wine, and we should get about 24 bottles back next Spring, which we were really pleased with.
“But with Denbies’ support we should get about twice that.”
Each of the 10 volunteers have taken responsibility for one or two rows of vines, which grow a variety of different types of grapes, and will share the wine between themselves.
Sue Osgood, vineyard manager of Denbies, will supervise training and advice for AAG members about pests, diseases and winemaking.
Christopher White, general manager of Denbies, said: “Denbies welcomes the opportunity to share our expertise and experience of English viticulture with this local community project.
“We look forward to tasting the first vintage.”
AAG members collected 117kg of grapes in their first harvest earlier this month.