A HUGE rehoming project has begun – to find loving homes for more than 2,000 grape vines.
Jillian and Charles Macready planted vines in the walled garden at Ickworth House in 1995, creating the only working vineyard at a National Trust property.
But the trust now wants to return the garden to its original use as a kitchen garden, so after this year’s harvest the vines must go.
But Mrs Macready said: “I would have felt I wasn’t doing my vineyard justice if I’d just grubbed it up.”
So she is now looking for people who have suitable places in the gardens to take on a vine, or a few of them, having successfully trialled rehoming a few in Suffolk and Hertfordshire.
Jillian said: “Whether people want to produce their own wine, eat the grapes or simply have the grapevines as decorative plants in their garden or on their allotment, all they need is a warm and sunny plot on well draining soil to re-home one of our grapevines.”
She is looking for individuals rather than someone who wants to start a commercial vineyard and would be able to take them all.
“It’s better if you’re going to be a commercial vineyard to start with new stock,” she said. “With one or two vines in your garden you can look after them individually.”
The varieties available are Rondo, Bacchus, Auxerrois and Pinot Noir, which are all well known as wine varieties. But Mrs Macready says that with the right care they will produce larger grapes and make fine eating, though they have seeds unlike most supermarket grapes.
Each vine costs £10 and comes with care instructions and email support from Mrs Macready, whose father began growing vines in East Anglia in the 1970s. Charles still manages Wyken Vineyard, which they planted in 1988,
But you will have to wait for your vines because harvest is late this year and will take place in October. Moving them will not start until November, which is perfect because they will be dormant by then. People will be invited to come and dig their own vine.
Contact Mrs Macready at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01284 723399.