The first harvest of grapes for winemaking in Richmond upon Thames had to be called off after the loss of three-quarters of the crop in the previous twenty-four hours.
Red Squirrel Wine, a new online wine merchant in Richmond, and Green & Blue, a wine bar and shop in East Dulwich, had planned to harvest the first grapes in Richmond’s historic vineyard area since the 1700s. The grapes, which grow untamed on an idyllic cobble-stoned street only yards away from ‘The Vineyard’, a famous street on the lower slopes of Richmond Hill and the site of early vineyards in the 17th and 18th century.
However, the harvest had to be called off for this year after the loss of three-quarters of the crop. The cause is as of yet unknown. It could have been a flock of greedy birds stocking up on tasty berries as the cold winter draws in, but the neat and uniform manner of removal might suggest human involvement.
Nik Darlington, founder of Red Squirrel Wine, said: “We are of course enormously disappointed to have our hopes of a good crop, however diminutive, dashed at the eleventh hour. I don’t know who did it, but what’s done is done and we’ll be better prepared next year.
“I hope it has raised a bit of awareness about Richmond’s viticultural past and shown the potential, even if like our predecessors the exercise hasn’t exactly borne fruit and with grape harvests around Europe down by as much as 70 per cent this year, Richmond’s shown we’re also not immune to the vagaries of nature. Thankfully for us it was just for some fun and a challenge, so no one’s going to go hungry as a result.”
Pic: Adam Gerard