The Winegrowers’ Handbook
A practical guide to setting up a vineyard and winery in the UK
Dr Belinda Kemp and Emma Rice

A review

Vineyards are not conjured out of fresh air and for those who fancy establishing or taking on an English or Welsh vineyard then there can be no better investment at the start than this handbook. Written by two industry stalwarts, Dr Belinda Kemp and Emma Rice, this book neatly brings to mind a slightly reworked aphorism: cometh the hour, cometh the book.
The writers take the would-be viticulturist through all the essential stages of establishing a commercial vineyard, spelling out the timeframe for would-be growers. How many will know that it can take at least three years to produce a crop from first planting: this is a period when no income will be coming in, just outgoings.
Titles of the book’s seven chapters neatly highlight the stages of development, and necessary investments, which face the would-be grower: Home winemaking and formal training; Land and soil; The grapes; Winemaking; Marketing; Other income opportunities; and Financing your project. An appendix includes the all-important Customs, excise and duty matters. The chapters are interspersed with 21 case studies of some well-known and less well-known wineries and vineyards.
Starting with a relevant and inspiring foreword from Roger Marchbank, UKVA deputy chairman, the book then incudes a potted history of winegrowing in this country from Roman days to the present day; then it is down to business.

Practical winemaking

Turning to the practical, the writers give the lowdown on the required skills and expertise, as well as spelling out the costings and investments needed to plant that first vine and then what to do next. This book is no idle read for loafers who are contemplating the prospects of a pastoral idyll of vines and shade and languid drinking of their own produce. Instead, it is a practical guide to establishing a viable and profitable vineyard in the UK.
Topics that may not spring immediately to mind when contemplating establishing a vineyard, yet are covered by the authors, include how to tap into holidaymakers’ pockets, how to tell HMRC that you have spilt and lost wine during production, how much margin each bottle requires for profit and which bugs could spell the end of your dream.

Dr Belinda Kemp and Emma Rice, one a PhD in Viticulture and the other a former editor of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book now an oenologist and winemaker, have put their pens to great use to aid the would-be and future producer of wine in England and Wales. It is enjoyable to read, the language stays away from dense, technical language which allows it to be accessible to everyone.

For the individuals who purchase this book, the result should be a great start to a career successfully profiting from the development of a vineyard. For the wider UK wine industry in the future, this book can work as a nursery for a great number of future success stories.

The Winegrowers’ Handbook
Dr Belinda Kemp and Emma Rice
Published 2012
ISBN 978 1 903872 28 4
Posthouse Publishing, The Old Post Office, Swanton Novers, Melton Constable, Norfolk NR24 2AJ