Forty Hall Vineyard is London’s only commercial-scale vineyard, certified organic and largely cared for by a passionate team of dedicated volunteers. It produces award winning still and sparkling wines from its unique North London terroir, in partnership with expert organic wine maker Will Davenport. A social enterprise, it delivers health and wellbeing benefits to local people, with all income from the wines being put back into maintaining the vineyard and supporting this valued community asset.
Originally planted in 2009, the vineyard has grown into a nurturing environment for all. But after three years of poor harvests – due to adverse weather conditions, devastating powdery mildew and a lack of adequate resources to control it – they are now in need of vital funds to enable them to continue their work and become commercially sustainable.
Without urgent funding for improved equipment and additional resources within the next few weeks, there is a very real risk to the 2023 harvest. Sadly, another poor vintage will mean no more wine to sell and, consequently, the end of the vineyard.
Head of Operations, Emma Lundie says: “This year really is make or break for us. We have managed ourselves well to keep the project going, despite three poor harvests and a pandemic, but we cannot survive another year and be sustainable in the long term without the right infrastructure in place to manage the vines.”
The vineyard needs a total of £85,000 in order to be self-sufficient, with the biggest element of this investment being a reliable tractor. This is required for the timely application of the essential organic sprays to feed and protect the vines and stop the spread of disease, as well as other essential vineyard maintenance, the timing of which is critical and often weather dependent.
Emma explains: “At the moment we share a tractor with Forty Hall Farm, where we are based, and it is not always available on the very specific days when we need to use it for essential spraying. The tractor we use also has a nasty habit of breaking down at crucial times. We simply cannot operate as a sustainable vineyard without our own tractor, that is fit for purpose.”
If the vineyard were to wither, it would be a tremendous loss to the over 100 registered volunteers who undertake all the tasks throughout the year – from winter pruning, through weeding and mulching, to harvesting the grapes. It would also impact all those who join for one-off team days, community lunches and to enjoy the vineyard’s Garden of Sanctuary status; not to mention those from across London and beyond who quickly snap up places for tours and tastings as soon as they are announced. It would sadly mean an end, too, for community outreach work with groups such as the local Ukrainian refugee women’s support group.
Karen Cunningham who has been part of the Forty Hall team since 2016 said: “For us volunteers, the vineyard is about more than making wine. For some, it helps with personal challenges like loneliness, depression, bereavement and anxiety; for others it’s a place to meet, be outdoors and work together as part of something worthwhile. After all the effort that many people have put in to this so far, and after all our successes, it would be such a loss if London’s vineyard disappeared.”
Support Forty Hall Vineyard
Please visit their fundraising page at: www.localgiving.org/appeal/tractorfund
For more information about the fundraising appeal: www.issuu.com/fhvineyard/docs/fhvfundraising2023
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