A GROUP of volunteers are hoping to bring wine making to Lower Metherell through a community vineyard project.

The long-term hope for the project is that it could eventually turn into a community-managed business.

The volunteer group was originally part of an orchard committee that ran the Harrowbarrow and Metherell Community Orchard project. Sadly after 11 years Tamar Grow Local who held the lease for the orchard received notice to quit for the land to be sold.

The orchard committee members were keen to explore ways to continue working together under a new community project and to keep on with the fundraising events planned for the year. Almost at the same time one of Tamar Grow Local’s farmstart tenants needed to step back from their vineyard project based in Lower Metherell and so the idea for a community-managed vineyard started to come together.

An initial meeting was held during the summer this year, and now a vineyard group has started to grow with locals in the village keen to get involved.

Rachael Clayton one of the committee members said: ‘We’ve had a great response from people in the village. We’ve had lots of households joining.

‘It’s really caught people’s imagination. Being able to have a vineyard in the village is an exciting and unusual project.

‘It’s also a very beautiful space, especially in the summer. All the jobs are nice jobs to do as a group and a nice way to get people involved. People are making new friends and getting to know their neighbours. It’s been really positive. It’s also brought in a new audience and has been a really nice opportunity for that.’

The vines which were planted around six years ago beared fruit this year and there was a small harvest in September of around 300-400kgs of Bacchus grapes. The harvest has been sent to Bere Alston Vineyard who will be making the wine for the group.

‘Bere Alston Vineyard have been teaching us how to harvest and they’re very kindly making it for us which is great’, said Rachael.

The community group is hoping to build on the project in the coming years to fulfil its aim to become a community-managed business but fundraising is needed to support maintenance of the site and the group have set up an annual membership cost of £50 per household. It is hoped that membership cost can be reduced over the coming years once there is excess wine or juice to sell and maintenance costs can be covered through sales. The vineyard is also not open to the public as it is land-locked but Rachael says ‘we hope to have local open days in the future.’

A fundraiser weekend is taking place next weekend. The Budapest Café Orchestra will be performing on November 19 in the Village Hall. Plus there will be a Christmas Food and Craft Market on the Sunday in the village hall between 11am-4pm.