Hampton Court Palace, located in London, features the world’s largest and oldest grave vine at its conservatory, which was planted during the time when George III was king of the British Empire and the American colonies were still under British rule.
The initial shoot was from a baby vine that came from the Valentine’s Mansion vineyard in Ilford, Essex. He then planted a vine in the leftover rich soil from the old Tudor toilets, and it prospered. By 1887, it measured approximately 1.2 metres in diameter.
Most commercial vineyards have a life expectancy of around 25 years, though vines are known to grow much older than that, up to 100 years old. Even though they produce much less fruit, older vines have a reputation for producing very high-quality grapes. Centurion vines were particularly vulnerable to phylloxera and fungal diseases during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, leading to a paucity of their numbers. The Great Vine was very fortunate.
Gardeners in Victorian times believed that having a single large vine in the garden would produce a better harvest. In order to keep the vines warm during the winter, they constructed a glass house around the vine. The glasshouse expanded several times as the vine grew. In the early 1900s, there was a public viewing area in one of them. The iron framework had to be incorporated into the new aluminium glasshouse because the vine had become so entangled in the original structure.
No documentation has been found of these grapes being used for wine production. The grapes were instead shipped to the royal household at Windsor Castle, rather than be used for a Queen’s Jubilee. Edward VII’s next move was to open them up to the public.
Today, the circumference of the Great Vine is four metres, and the longest extension is 36.5 metres. On average, black grapes weigh 272 kilogrammes. The Great Vine produced its greatest harvest of 363 Kg in 2001.
via Amusing Planet