Farmers see a profitable future in the burgeoning English wine sector
- Credit: Archant
A family farming business near Stowmarket has invested significantly in vines in a hope it can profit from the growing reputation of the burgeoning English wine sector
Earlier this week father and son team, Stuart and James Scarff, who run Scarff’s Farm at Combs, oversaw the planting of more than 22,000 vine saplings across ten acres of their land. The pair plan to plant the same amount next year and hope to be supplying UK wine makers with grapes once the plants are ready for their first harvest in four years time.
Son James said the decision to go into the wine business came as result of a need to diversify from the farm’s traditional crop and vegetable production, which has been the mainstay of activity across the farm’s 1,000 acres over the years.
“What with Brexit and crop prices, there is a lot of uncertainty in farming at the moment and we have been looking at other options,” he said.
“There’s a lot of demand for English wine at the moment - its sparkling wines have won a lot of awards - and we decided we would like to be part of this exciting sector.”
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The Scarffs’ move into the wine business has been three years in the planning. Both Stuart and James attended a viticulture course at Plumpton College in Sussex and have worked closely with a consultant to source the right vines for the type of soil found on the farm. The vines planted this week are three varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The duo do not plan to make their own wine but intend to sell the grapes onto UK wine makers.
James said changing climate patterns are helping to boost the English wine sector.
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He continued; “Because of rising temperatures, places like the Champagne region and Bordeaux in France are now becoming too hot to produce quality sparkling wines. French growers are looking to buy up land in the UK because we now have the ideal climate.
James added: “There’s already a significant wine sector in the south east in counties like Sussex but last year their harvests were hit by frost.
“We are a bit more sheltered in the east and less susceptible to these late frosts.
“Wine makes are interested in having a contract with us as we offer another source of crop and allow them to spread their risk.”