Supermarket sells English grapes
Published 20/09/2011 | 11:48
Juicy grapes grown and hand-picked in England will be launched by a supermarket for the first time this week.
A crop of golden yellow fruit harvested from vines on the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire will be introduced by Waitrose.
The grapes are the Muscat of Alexandria variety more usually seen in the sunny climes of Spain, France, Chile and South Africa.
They were carefully cultivated on the Duke of Devonshire's estate and their arrival follows an English wine boom that saw vineyards here celebrate record production, equal to four million bottles, last year.
Small quantities of sweet dessert grapes have been grown in England for many decades but not on a commercial scale and they can thrive only if kept in heated glasshouses.
The fruit was grown in a Chatsworth glasshouse where vines were first planted in 1921.
Steve Porter, Chatsworth's head of gardens and domain, said: "Growing these grapes is a very labour-intensive process so we have up to three gardeners at a time tending to them in the glasshouse.
"Chatsworth produces around 500 bunches annually, so the Duke of Devonshire and his family are very pleased that delicious Derbyshire grapes will now reach a wider audience."
Waitrose fruit buying manager Jocelyn Clarke said: "The English climate is not really suited to growing table grapes so it's a glorious surprise that these delicious fruit are a little piece of England.
"The Muscat of Alexandria is a beautiful variety of dessert grape and the fact that we have a supply lovingly cultivated in Derbyshire is the icing on the cake."