Travel Shot: The longest grape vine in the world

What I love most about travel is the unexpected. I don’t mean the ‘discovering’ type of unexpected; I mean finding something you were not aware of before and in a place where you least expect it to be.

Take for instance, the trip I made to Hampton Court Palace (near London) in 2009. It was a beautiful summer’s day and I had arrived at Hampton Court Palace in style — by boat over the River Thames, much like how King Henry VIII would have. I spent a wonderful time at the Palace (actually they are 2 palaces, but that is a story for another post!), and wandered around its extensive grounds, tennis courts, privy and knot gardens, and what not, and nearly drained my camera battery with the number of photos I took. Just what I expected a palace in England to be like.

When I came across a rather nondescript looking glasshouse, I almost didn’t go in to explore. But then curiosity won, and I found myself in the presence of the world’s longest, and one of the world’s oldest, grape vine, also known as the Great Vine.

Longest Grape vine, Hampton Court Palace, England, UK, Great Vine
The Great Vine at Hampton Court Palace. If you look closely you can see the vine laden with grapes.

The Great Vine was planted in 1769 on the site of the first glasshouse built in the Hampton Court Palace; today, the Vine has filled up the entire glasshouse. A lot of care is taken to protect the Great Vine from encroachment by other plants, as well as from disease. Only organic manure/fertiliser is used and the Vine is protected from mildew by vaporising sulphur using small electrically operated vaporisers suspended amongst the plant’s branches.

Even after more than 2 centuries, the Vine still produces grapes. According to the official website,

the average crop of black dessert grapes is about 272 kilograms… The grapes are … sold during the first three weeks of September.

I had visited Hampton Court Palace in late July when the Great Vine was laden with plump grapes and were due to be picked in a month’s time. I love grapes and wished I could have tasted them, though I doubt if I would have been able to afford them. Still, that didn’t stop me from imagining what they would have tasted like — juicy, sweet, and just a little sour. Just as I like my grapes.

PS: Apologies for the photograph quality; this one is from my pre-blogging days 😛

10 thoughts on “Travel Shot: The longest grape vine in the world

    1. Come to think of it, it is not so surprising to find a grape vine in a palace as most of them tried to be self-sufficient. What is surprising is that the vine is still doing good and producing fruit. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Lavender. And nice to see you here again after so long. 🙂 Travel for the unexpected is always the best.

      The current blog header is a bandhanwar and was taken at the Kala Ghoda Arts festival (I just published a post on the KGAF a short while back). One of the stalls was selling them in various colours.

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  1. Two centuries old and still producing grapes? That is some productivity, isn’t it? And yes, your travel posts are interesting only because one never knows what nugget might be buried in the text. It is as much fun discovering it as it might be for you to find it and then record it for us 🙂 Love the colourful header.

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    1. Actually it is almost two and half centuries old and still producing grapes. I love the way the Great vine is taken care of and how reverentially it is treated.

      The header is from the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2014. Do check out my latest post, which is on my experiences there.

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