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A vine and willow basket to celebrate the terroir of my family's vineyard.

Terroir basket made by Daisy Askins

My family own Astley Vineyard in Worcestershire. Astley is one of the oldest vineyards in the UK; it was planted in 1971 and at the time was regarded as the most northerly vineyard in the world. My family bought the vineyard in 2017 - with zero experience of viticulture or winemaking, but a big desire for a new adventure.

The vineyard is five acres, and produces roughly six thousand bottles of wine per year. We make mainly still and sparkling white wine from our grape varieties: Kerner, Bacchus, Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine, as well as small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Astley Vineyard in Worcestershire

Viticulture is an all year-process; the vines demand a lot of attention to keep them healthy and productive. The year starts in January, with winter pruning, which removes last year's fruiting canes, and any other dead or diseased growth. Bud rubbing comes next in the Spring, which is where you select the buds for this year's growth, and remove all others. Then as Summer approaches, its into canopy management, which aims to control the vegetative growth so that the fruit has chance to ripen. The culmination of the year's efforts is in late Summer and Autumn, when we harvest the grapes for winemaking. And throughout the year, there's pest and disease control and mowing to keep on top of, post and wire repairs to do, and new vine planting to carry out; let alone all the business of winemaking, tours and tastings, and general management of the business and wider estate.

Viticulture at Astley Vineyard

I wanted to create a basket which encapsulates the heritage and day to day life of my family's vineyard; otherwise known as its terroir. Terroir is a French term used to describe the set of environmental and human factors that give a wine its unique character. It includes the soil, microclimate and surrounding landscape and ecology of the vineyard, as well as the viticulture history and management techniques of the vineyard workers.

This basket embodies the terroir of my family’s vineyard. The flowing lines of the willow, which incorporates a stacked French Rand technique in Old French and Dicky Meadows willow, depict the local geology and topography of Astley Vineyard. The sculptural handle is made from one of our old vines which had finally reached the end of its productive life. The twisted gnarly growth, and the many pruning marks, speaks to the long history of the vineyard and the many winters of pruning that my family and our predecessors have carried out as part of our stewardship of the vines.

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