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Environment secretary Owen Paterson visits Enfield's very own commercial vineyard
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has praised Enfield’s very own commercial vineyard.
The cabinet member ran out of superlatives for the site at Forty Hall farm, in Enfield, which produced its first batch in May 2014.
The vineyard is celebrating being the first commercial vineyard within London for 200 years.
The Environment Secretary, who was invited to taste a sample, said: “It is an absolutely brilliant project. One of my main aims is to substitute imports, and here we have a fantastic site, perfect soil, sloping south and it is brilliant to have a vineyard established within London for the first time 200 years.
“Some 30 per cent of food and drink imported but could be produced here. Local food is better, cheaper and a direct import substitute. People need to know this is happening.”
Started in 2009 by Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, the project received a grant to help set up the ten acre site.
Kate McGeevor, manager of Forty Hill farm, said: "It's going really well at the moment. We had 170 bottles for the first time this May and our first sparkling wine is due in August 2015.
“There is a waiting list for volunteers because there is such an interest. It is a therapeutic environment. We hope in August 2015 to have 300 to 350 bottles.
“When we are at full production, we hope to produce 13,000 bottles from the ten acres, but that won’t be for another three or four years.
“Sarah had a real interest in English wine growing; I think she was interested in having wider social benefits rather than a private enterprise and this is perfect vineyard territory."
Enfield North MP Nick de Bois described the vineyard as one of the crown jewels of the borough.
He said: “This is the only commercial vineyard in London; one of our main reasons for having the Secretary of State here is that this is one of our jewels in the crown and is a little bit too much of a secret.”