The Vineyard

Vineyard view

Warden Abey

Founded in 1136 as a daughter-house to world-famous Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, Warden Abbey was one of the earliest Cistercian settlements in England. The English Reformation led to its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1536.  In common with many monasteries of the day, the monks made wine here. They planted two vineyards:  the ten acre Greate Vineyard and the four acre Lyttel Vineyard.
The modern vineyard was planted on the site of the Lyttel Vineyard by the Whitbread family in 1986 and they produced award winning wines right up to their last vintage in 2008. 

Warden Abbey Vineyard

Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity took on the lease and has managed the vineyard since 2010 to develop it as a unique resource for the local community.
There are four white grape varieties - Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Regner, and Muller Thurgau - planted on 5 acres of south-facing slopes.  The average yield has been 4-6,000 bottles, but has varied from 0 to around 24,000!

The Vineyard Year

November to March      - repairs to trellis and rabbit fencing
January/February         - pruning the dormant vines
From March                  - grass cutting between vine rows, around once a month
April/May                      - weed, pest and disease control starts
May                              - "bud-rubbing": removing unwanted buds that sprout from the main trunk.  This
                                      saves the plant's energies for the fruit
June to July                 - "tucking in": positioning new shoots within the supporting trellis wires to get maximum
July to August              - trimming shoots back to control the leaf canopy
August/September       - leaves are selectively stripped from around the fruit zone so the sun can ripen the grapes
October                        - Harvest!