Royals to make their own tipple

After serving English wine at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the British royal family has now set its sights on producing bubbly.

More than 16,000 vines will be planted next week in Windsor Great Park, the former hunting park of the Queen's favourite residence, Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, south-east England.

Laithwaites Wine, tenant farmers on the royal estates, said they were "extremely proud" to be invited by the royal family to work on the project, but admitted it was only at the "seedling stage".

The vineyard will be planted with the champagne grape varieties of chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.

Although not a traditional producer, wine from England is on the up, with figures released this week showing a record four million bottles were produced last year.

The royal family have long championed English wine and sparkling wine from Britain's biggest producer, Chapel Down, was served at the royal wedding last week.

Prince Philip, the queen's 90-year-old husband, is said to be closely involved in the vine-planting project.

Simon McMurtrie, the chief executive of the Direct Wines mail order wine seller which owns Laithwaites, said: "Laithwaites Wine is extremely proud to be invited by The Royal Farms to plant vines at Windsor Great Park.

"As champions of English wine we are delighted to do what we can to help boost its production and popularity in this country at this time.

"This exciting project is just at the seedling stage for now. We will announce more detail as it grows."

Vineyards generally take three years to yield a crop of grapes that can be made into wine.

- AFP

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