Rise and fall of Fenlandia

PUBLISHED: 11:53 09 March 2006 | UPDATED: 14:36 12 May 2010

Rows of Cupressus Leylandi

Rows of Cupressus Leylandi

THE vineyard is another part of the village scene which has disappeared from Post Wobegon together with the post office, stores, and pub. No it wasn't a village amenity, neither am I decrying its demise. With a footpath going through, it cannot be denied

THE vineyard is another part of the village scene which has disappeared from Post Wobegon together with the post office, stores, and pub. No it wasn't a village amenity, neither am I decrying its demise. With a footpath going through, it cannot be denied that its presence added great interest to village life. In fact, when it was rumoured that there was going to be a vineyard here, it sounded so far fetched as to be ignored as at the time there were few vineyards in England. But rumour became reality when ground preparation began followed by the arrival of the owner's family to plant up the vines. I seem to remember this was circa 1980 and that the first grapes were gathered in 1984. The wine from this crop was apparently a good one. One retail outlet was, of course, at the local post office and stores where in November 1985, Alan, the then proprietor, duly announced the arrival of Chateau Eversden. In June 1986, when Cambridgeshire twinned with L'Herault in the south of France a consignment of the first wine to be produced in the village was among the gifts taken there by the first party of twinning visitors. The hobbyist owner also had a vineyard at Cottenham and the wine from the two vineyards was named Fenlandia. Over the years the vineyard slowly grew as different varieties of grapes were planted. I am not an authority on wine, but I am well aware that each vine requires attention on 17 occasions throughout the season. In those early years before climatic change was a common topic of conversation vast quantities of blue plastic sheeting covered the vineyard either to speed up the ripening process or to prevent damage from late frost early in the season. Indian-type summers would help a grape crop to ripen which would otherwise have been a write off. In later years rows of the infamous cupressus leylandi seen as young trees in the picture, sheltered the vineyard not only almost hiding it from sight, but blotting out the view of the countryside beyond. Some 10 years ago, Tom advertised the vineyard for rent in the hopes that someone else would take it over as a hobby. Meanwhile the cuppresus grew upwards, unchecked. Their presence was not exactly appreciated. In vain, requests were made for their height to be lowered. Time has moved on, the vineyard has been sold to be used as grazing areas. If the cupressus are lowered now there will at last be views of the phone mast that no-one wants to see and if the Cemex proposals for expansion are approved there will be views of a massive cooling tower which all would like to see even less. - Jill Marshall reports from the Eversdens in Village Scene each week in The Crow.

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