Adam Lyness, sales manager at Hadley Group, discusses the importance of choosing the right materials for your vineyard that will best support planting and growing, as well as the benefits of using steel vineposts.

According to the latest figures from Wine GB and Wine Intelligence, a record-breaking 13.2 million bottles of wine were produced in England and Wales in 2018. With 658 commercial vineyards and 164 wineries scattered across the UK, around three million vines have been planted this year alone, making it clear that wine production in the UK is increasing and this pace of growth clearly reflects the industry’s confidence.

However, as the UK climate is very different to the likes of France, Spain or Germany, it is vital that the right vineposts are planted in UK vineyards to ensure successful planting and growing. One type of vinepost that is increasing in popularity for many reasons, are cold rolled, hot dipped galvanised steel vineposts, as they are more environmentally friendly, will last much longer and are easier and quicker to install. 

Flat steel is cold rolled into its vinepost form, where the steel is processed at temperatures that are close to normal room temperature. This results in increased strength of the finished product by as much as 20%, as well as savings in weight. After being formed, the vineposts are then hot-dipped in zinc galvanise, providing an additional hard, durable protective coating, which ensures any exposed edges from the manufacturing processes. 

Indeed, there are a range of profiles available in the steel vineposts market which will differ in performance. Steel vineposts that are manufactured using Hadley Group’s internationally patented UltraSTEEL® cold rollforming process combine high strength and load carrying capacity with extreme flexibility. Rolled between two mating rolls, a dimpled pattern is created and the surface area is increased, meaning that the post comes into contact with more earth when planted, improving its stability in the ground. The vineposts also offer more wire spacing options with reinforced tags strong enough to withstand the impact caused by mechanical harvesting, and the disease resistant steel is guaranteed to be corrosion-resistant for up to 25 years.

Joining a long list of growers to recognise the benefits of Hadley Group’s UltraSTEEL® vineposts was Dillions Vineyard, a family vineyard situated in the West Sussex countryside that was planted earlier this year. Due to its location in the region of Sussex and being situated on a south-west facing slope at 70 metres and 40 metres above sea level, this made it the ideal climate and soil for wine production. With 16,750 vines sprawled across the field, the vineyard grows grapes for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Bacchus wines. 

David Trott, vineyard manager at Dillions Vineyard, said: “I bought the property, our family home, back in 2010 and with the extra land it had always been my vision to eventually plant a vineyard there. As this is my first vineyard, I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to vineposts, but I did know that I wanted metal vineposts rather than wooden, as I wanted something that would last and still be in the ground in 20-30 years’ time. 

“Therefore, I brought Vine-Works on board, a UK-leading vineyard management company who have been establishing, managing, maintaining and supporting vineyards across the UK for over a decade and they highly recommended Hadley Group’s vineposts. I had also heard that Hadley Group’s products were used to upgrade the existing vinepost collection at the Rathfinny Wine Estate, a large and very well-known establishment in East Sussex. The vineyard suffers from strong winds off the sea and these vineposts are their preferred choice, so I knew that this was something that I wanted to look into further.”

James Dodson, director and head of vineyard establishment at Vine-Works Ltd, said: “The soils in the UK can make it difficult to get vineposts into the ground therefore our clients need strong and sturdy vineposts that they can rely on. Due to adverse weather conditions, the trellis systems can take a real beating, so the vineposts need to be able to withstand high winds. For Dillions and as with all our other projects, we recommended Hadley Group’s posts from the outset before our team went on site to complete the installation.”

Hadley Group’s vineposts are the result of extensive product development to meet the specific wire support needs of wine growers around the world. The company can also design and produce custom-made vineposts, develop prototype samples in-house and once approved, manufacture the vineposts in high volumes for every vineyard project.

With predictions that volumes of wine production will increase to some 40 million bottles per annum by 2040, it is important to remember, that when choosing the right materials for your vineyard they should have, at least, a similar lifespan to that of the vineyard. Although tempting to perhaps make a saving initially in the set-up of your vineyard, poor quality materials can result in a trellising system that is not adequate for the task.