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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Hop farm brother plants vineyard
Grapes on vine
The south-east climate is changing to resemble Champagne's
Changes to the climate in the South East have prompted a man who has spent his working life in London to return to his family farm to plant a vineyard.

Nicholas Hall is taking over part of his brother Peter's hop farm in Marden, Kent, to plant 13,500 vines.

"Temperatures are rising consistently and the climate now is very similar to the climate in [the French region of] Champagne 20 years ago," he said.

"There is a serious market in this country for English sparkling wine."

Mr Hall, who worked in the media in London, said he was inspired to plant the vineyard by the changes in the Garden of England over the years.

Prince's hops

"A lot of what was farmland when I was growing up has become either empty fields, or the oast houses and farms have been turned into homes," he said.

His brother supplies organic hops for products including the Prince of Wales's Duchy Originals beer.

And Peter Hall said he was producing a crop for a niche market, rather than competing in the global hop business.

"When I was a child there were over 100 hop growers in the parish of Marden - now I am the only one left," he said.

"It is a declining industry but it has probably stabilised for the people growing the right varieties for the right customers at the right price."

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