Grape Varieties on St Martin's Vineyard
We have eleven different varieties of grapevine planted across our 2.5 acre site on St Martin's. Each of these varieties has its own character and unique qualities, some of which lend themselves perfectly to single-variety wines whilst others are invaluable to blends which vary from year to year.
These varieties planted across the vineyard were selected and trialled over the last 20 years by Val and Graham Thomas as the vineyard slowly expanded out from the first field. A few varieties such as Findling and Solaris were found to be unsuited to this site and these were removed after a few years, whilst more successful varieties such as Orion and Seyval were expanded to cover more fields. The majority of these varieties are of German or French origin which are on a similar latitude to the Isles of Scilly - you can explore the Google map below to find out where each of the varieties originates from!
Reichensteiner was the first variety planted on the vineyard in 1996 and the original vines are still producing an excellent harvest 24 years later. This is a white grape variety originally from Germany and is now widely grown in the UK and New Zealand. It lacks the acidity of some of the other varieties and lends itself nicely to blending - it is usually used to create our St Martin's Reserve.
Orion is the most widely planted variety on the vineyard - this is a white wine grape variety of German origin. It was created in 1964, by crossing the Vitis vinifera variety Optima with the hybrid grape Villard Blanc. We regularly make a single-variety Orion wine which is always popular on our tastings. Siegerrebe is another variety originating from Germany which has an intense aroma and a flavour reminiscent of Gewurztraminer - it tends to be used in blending but we also like to make a single-variety wine to let visitors experience its unique taste.
Seyval Blanc is the second most abundant vine on the vineyard - this variety is of French origin and produces wines with a characteristic citrus element and a pleasing minerality. This is another variety which can be blended, but makes a delicious crisp wine on its own and is popular as a half-bottle served at Adam's Fish and Chip shop next door to the vineyard. Madeleine Angevine grows in our Top Tunnel and is another French variety whose early-ripening makes it well suited to our English climate!
Red grape varieties on the vineyard include Rondo, Pinot Meunier and Regent. This latter variety grows under one of the vineyard polytunnels which provides a warm, sheltered microclimate which encourages ripening at the end of summer. We often use this in a blend to make the St Martin's Rose whilst the Pinot makes a delicate, light single variety red.
The vineyard also has small numbers of Chardonnay, Triomphe d'Alsace and Schönburger - some of these were trials which did not suggest a wider planting, but which performed well enough to be worth keeping as their distinctive characters can be used to blend with other grapes and create something a little special!