Chatsworth’s vine offering

Chatsworth head gardener Steve Porter in the vine house with a bumper crop of grapes
Chatsworth head gardener Steve Porter in the vine house with a bumper crop of grapes

HANDPICKED grapes from the Chatsworth estate are the first English crop ever to be sold in supermarkets.

The golden yellow fruits are the Muscat of Alexandria variety, more usually seen thriving in the warm climates of France, Spain, Chile and South Africa.

But the Derbyshire-harvested batch are now available in Waitrose, thanks to the work of gardeners at Chatsworth.

Steve Porter, head of gardens at the estate 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.”

The grape vines need careful pruning throughout the year to help them stay healthy and pest free.

They have been cultivated in a glasshouse where vines were first planted back in 1921.

This is the first time English-grown grapes have been available in supermarkets, although sweet dessert grapes have been grown in England for decades, on a smaller scale.

Waitrose fruit buying manager, Jocelyn Clarke, said: “The English climate is not really suited to growing table grapes so it’s a glorious surprise.

“It is a beautiful variety and the fact that we have a supply lovingly cultivated in Derbyshire is the icing on the cake.”

The grapes are now on sale at the John Lewis Foodhall from Waitrose on London’s Oxford Street for a limited period priced at £2.99 per 300g pack but will not be more widely available because green house space is limited.

The grapes will also be selling at Chatsworth farmshop in Pilsley for a limited time.

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