One of this year’s most prominent Vineyard & Winery Show sponsors has amassed 30 years of experience in helping growers select the right site and plant the right vines.
Agrii, the leading agronomy business and sponsor of this year’s impressive tasting glasses, supplied by leading German manufacturer Rastal, has seen remarkable growth over the past three decades.
The company, which describes itself as a “leading viticulture, technology and supply business” has seen interest in its site selection, assessment and planting expertise grow hand-in-hand with the steady expansion of the area now devoted to growing grapes for English Wine.
Agrii’s specialist viticulture team is well placed to serve the growth the sector has seen in recent years. It points out that in the five years to 2022, the area under vines across Britain increased by 74% to 3,928 ha, according to Wine GB, the industry body. It anticipates the sector will maintain the growth of recent years to reach 7,600 ha or more by 2032 – an increase of 95% on 2022.
“Across the south and south-east, vines for sparkling wine tend to dominate, but there is growing interest in those varieties suited to still wine across southern England and also further afield. Suffolk is a hotspot for Riesling, for example,” said Ben Brown, Agrii viticulture specialist.
Soil analysis and site assessment is often the first step towards establishing a vineyard. This typically involves combining physical inspections with actual and historical weather data to provide an informed opinion.
“If you want a vineyard to last 20 years, you need to know your soils and its characteristics. This analysis determines the rootstock to be used and influences the variety of grape selected. Making bad decisions can be costly later on, so time and effort invested at the early stages is often worthwhile,” Mr Brown pointed out.
There are many considerations, such as what to plant between the rows that doesn’t harbour pests or disease or negatively affect soil pH. The most suitable options are often soil-type specific, so sound experience is essential to making the best decision.
“The greensands and chalk soils of southern England are particularly well-suited to viticulture. Topography, altitude, aspect and wind exposure are also important, especially to planting direction and row spacing,” Mr Brown went on. “Free-draining sites should be preferred as poorly draining sites increase the risk that roots will sit in water-logged soils which will cause them to die.”
The range of varieties suited to the British climate demonstrates not just the suitability of this country for vines but also the diversity of wines that can be produced. “It’s a case of matching the variety to the terroir of your land, something Agrii has specialised in for more than 30 years,” Mr Brown added.
Agrii has agreed to sponsor the show glasses, which feature the company’s logo as well as that of the Vineyard & Winery Show, for the next three years.