There is considerable interest in diversifying into growing vines, writes Alex Cornwallis, Director

After a successful first Viti-Culture event at Plumpton earlier this summer we continue to see a steady number of enquiries from farmers and landowners interested in finding out more about diversifying into growing vines, as well as potential new entrants to the market and existing vineyards looking to expand production.

We therefore see considerable interest in land suitable for growing vines when it comes to the open market and farms and land tend to be quickly under offer if they meet the criteria needed for successful growing and/or is suitable for a new vineyard. 

One of the things we hear time and time again is that viticulture is a lifestyle business with some generous IHT relief, but with a need for deep pockets to make a name for yourself. I think we saw a new generation of potential growers at Plumpton who are keen to make a success from this expanding market and they were keen to come along and to ask advice which when free is even better and thank you to Stephen Skelton for joining us on our Viti-Culture stand and being so generous to everyone he spoke to with his vast knowledge.

Viticulture is clearly a long-term project and a long-term investment but taking a more strategic approach may help you to overcome some of the early hurdles.

Putting to one side the weather, like all involved with farming you can’t do much about it, but you can plan your planting and provide shelter schemes to provide protection from the worst of mother nature.

Secondly focus on your yield and the quality of the grapes you grow. All farmers tweak what they do, so vine growers shouldn’t be any different. Before launching into planting why not test different varieties to see if they suit your soils first and also consider if you want to make any changes however small to your growing systems, which may help you make small gains.

If you are investing in machinery and equipment, ask yourself if you can make any financial return by contracting it and or your services to other growers in a similar position? 

This can sometimes help you decide to make a leap and invest in something more efficient. There are for example, reports of a lack of wine making capacity here in the UK so deciding whether you are a grower, a winemaker or both could make a difference to your future success.