Tucking in the vines at Rothley Wines

We popped back to see our friends at Kingfisher’s Pool Vineyard (Rothley Wines) last weekend and had a blast tucking down the new shoot growth of their vines. It was getting pretty unruly out there!

It was a lot of hard work, spending the whole day in what turned out to be blazing sunshine but it gave me a great feel for the different varietals and how their vines differ in shape, size. colour and growing habits as well as encouraging me to treat them like plants and not delicate porcelain snowflakes of wonder, which is how I started! By the end I was grabbing horizontal shoots by the armful and pushing them under the trellis wire. It also gave me a good taste of just how much hard work you have to put in to get them grapes growing!

It was really easy to get lost in yourself as you slowly paced down the leafy avenues of vines, looking carefully for the best direction in which to tuck a shoot so that it didn’t snap. In my blissful, sunny solitude I was startled by a tiny rabbit, darting for cover amongst the leafy hedgerow canopy to the edge of the vineyard. It was hard, but satisfying work, particularly as I am of the short-arse persuasion so some of the errant vine tendrils required something of a hop, skip and a jump on my part to grab them and to pull them down to their proper place. We spent so much time out there that, despite my regular applications of suncream, I actually managed to get sunburnt lips, which were peeling for days after – lesson learned there!

Hard life as a vineyard labourer, no?

As a thank you to the small team of committed volunteers who gave up their sunny Saturday, Liz and Matthew fed us all like kings, with a wonderful selection of quiche and salad followed by the most beautiful cakes, all from the fantastic David North, not just picturesque in the extreme to look at, but ruddy delicious with it! Truly we were spoiled at the dinner table.

There we are! Picture courtesy of Rothley Wines

One of the really interesting things about Rothley Wines is that they are experimenting with their own pruning system. I know, if you don’t like wine that is probably totally irrelevant and dull, but I enjoyed seeing the ‘Kingfisher Curtain’ in action, an adaptation of the double Sylvos trellis system, in action. I found it particularly interesting to see how vigorous and unwieldy the Siegerriebe had become and how the Regent grapevines were absolutely perfectly matched to the trellis system.

So a fabulous day was had by all. It was a pleasure to meet the other volunteers, to learn more about the workings of the vines and to meet the new chickens that are taking up residence in Chicken World, as well as getting re-aquainted with Ginger and Ebony, the latter of whom was so excited to see The Boy again that she decided to try (and nearly succeed) to fly out of Chicken World under her own steam for the first time ever! 

Obligatory chicken photo

I cannot wait to have more opportunities to visit Rothley Wine to lend and hand and learn more about the vines, but I think that we must discourage Liz from feeling like she must feed us each time – we would happily come along every week and work for absolutely nothing but the sheer pleasure of it, so beautiful is that little green corner of Rothley. 

I’m also amazed at this photo that Matthew took. I might use it on all my PR material from now on. It makes me look like a hugely engaging speaker who has captured the attention of the entire room with my witty anecdotes and scintillating conversation. Anyone who knows me in real life understands that this impression is simply a trick of the camera.

Photo courtesy of Rothley Wines


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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