We have been in our flat for 8 years, and during that time, the vine growing under the canopy at the back door has been one of our favourite features. It looks very old, and in fact could almost be as old as the house which is 100 years old, as grape vines were popular in Victorian/Edwardian times.
It has never yielded edible grapes in any quantities, but this year Jamie decided to nurture and cultivate it, and in combination with a very warm and quite rainy summer, we have something worth harvesting:
He tested them and the grapes are already edible so there are good prospects for ripe and sweet grapes that we could attempt to make wine with. Even if it comes to nothing, it should all be good experience for when our vines at the allotment start producing. We got some good tips chatting to John Dickin from the Iron Railway Vineyard, who sells locally produced wine at the farmer's markets round here. He grow the grapes and gets them made into wine by a professional winemaker. This year we have also adopted a vine from Godstone Vineyards, so hopefully we may pick up some tips at their harvest time.
Another option would be The Urban Wine Co. This collective is a really interesting project started by two guys, Richard and Tim from Tooting in South London. They decided to pool the local harvest from back gardens and allotments in the area, which were sent to a winemaker in Sussex and made into a batch of 30 bottles of 'Chateau Tooting' wine, as they named it.
Apparently winemakers in the Champagne region are buying up land in Kent and Sussex, so watch this space!