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UK vineyards hit by flooding

Published:  23 July, 2008

English and Welsh vineyards have held fast amid the floods and torrential downpours, while licensees are counting the cost of the devastation.

George Bowden of Leventhorpe in Leeds, the most northerly commercial vineyard in Britain, said he and his vines were "a bit battered" but had survived through worse.

In fact, Nature had done him a favour: "Plenty of canes have been knocked off, which is something I would have had to do later anyway," he joked.

Jonty Daniels at Astley Vineyard in Worcestershire agreed. "We were expecting a large crop and we don't like big yields. The silver lining is that the rain has thinned it down for us."

Vineyards in Wales, including Cwn Deri in Pembrokeshire, said high winds were more of an issue than high water, while at Three Choirs in Gloucestershire, Thomas Shaw said the rain was almost welcome.

"We had a warm, dry start to the year, so if we're going to have rain, this is the time to have it," he said.

Further south in Cornwall and Devon, each affected by flood warnings, winemakers were hoping to see the rain dry up by next week.

"We're hanging on by the skin of our teeth," said Sam Lindo of Camel Valley. "Some people have just planted and they've had new vines just washed away. We're fine, but you never know what next week may hold if it carries on like this."

Duncan Schwab, winemaker at Sharpham said he wasn't daring to go outside, but his vineyard manager "is out there stressed on his tractor". "It's not the end of the world. We're about halfway through flowering, which is not ideal, but some people haven't started yet and that's a disaster for them."

Meanwhile, pub cellars in Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham in South Yorkshire have been swamped in up to four feet of water when roads turned into rivers. Road closures have also prevented supplies being delivered to pubs that have managed to continue serving amid the deluge.