Pea plants thriving on the Calderdale slopes in boost for wine business
A Calderdale farming family is celebrating a bumper crop of peas that will be used to make one of the 16 flavours of wine they produce.
Luddenden Valley Wines is run by Gwyn and Elaine Evans from their 8.5-acre smallholding in Calderdale.
Having found grapes too difficult to grow on their high, exposed hill farm, they instead use parsnips, blackberries and rhubarb to make wine.
“It was all about discovering what grew in difficult terrain and trying to make a profit,” said Mr Evans.
“We considered planting grapes, but a lot of animals eat them and it would have been financially risky. We have continued with British fruit so that we have the resilience to frosts and droughts.
“Parsnips make nice wine, and rhubarb is the most popular. In winter, people like a blackberry red, and in spring they prefer dandelion and elderflower flavours.”
The dry spring and early summer rainfall have provided perfect growing conditions for the peas, which are currently being harvested by hand. They will be matured in their own licensed winery before being bottled and sold next summer.
“It’s been a really good year. The late rain has been a problem for our apples, but it seems to have worked for the peas. We put nets up to keep the pigeons out too – last year we lost 50 per cent of the crop to them.
“We used to sell mainly at food fairs and markets, and we have gained a lot of loyal customers. In lockdown, we have done a lot of home deliveries in Calderdale and beyond, and people can place orders on our Facebook page.”