A wine lover has saved a UK vineyard from destruction by uprooting vines and moving them 100 miles across the country.
Moving vineyard relocates from Theale to Devon
Stephen Selman, wine lover and horticulturalist, resolved to rescue the vines after a friend working with Laithwaite’s told him about them.
Laithwaite’s planted the Theale Vineyard in 1999, and produced a sparkling wine from 2002 – 2015. But, the landowner subsequently sought to re-claim the area.
‘The vines would be destroyed if someone wasn’t crazy enough to re-home them,’ Selman said.
‘How could I not try and save these 16 year old Chardonnay vines?’
Moving the vineyard required digging up the vines with a three tonne mini-digger. Selman did this in March this year when the vines were still dormant, to limit the risk of damage.
Once the vines were out of the ground, the roots were coiled up and placed in rubble bags with a shovel full of topsoil for moisture.
Using evenings and weekends, Selman and his team set to work re-planting the vines in the new location in Devon.
‘The last vine was planted in June – it had taken us two months,’ he said.
Preparing for re-planting
‘I knew if this was to work then preparations would be everything,’ added Selman.
‘I had tried to research “transplanting vines” with little success – I could find the odd YouTube video of an individual vine being transplanted, but nothing on this scale.
‘The system of planting them back into the ground had to be done entirely by hand with shovels, hoes and bare hands.
‘It was one of the most challenging things I’ve done, and physically up there with the harder aspects of [my] Royal marine training.’