It's cheaper to grow your own

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Contrary to popular belief you do not have to be a Rothschild or an Andrew Lloyd Webber to have your own vineyard. All you need is pounds 49. At this price it is possible to buy a share and part-ownership in a vineyard. It could be one route to cheap quality wine.

3D Wines, based in Lincolnshire, has leased rows of vines in Burgundy and in the Loire Valley. It rents out these vines to individual partners. A row of vines is available at a rental of between pounds 49 and pounds 65 per annum depending on the region. According to 3D Wines, each row will produce 48 bottles of Appellation Controlee wine each year.

Partners must pay for bottling the wine. Bottles of Sancerre cost pounds 4.31 each while champagne is on offer at pounds 7.41 a bottle.

Those prepared to invest in a row of vines for a five-year period will enjoy a 20 per cent discount on the rental as well as the opportunity to swap their wine with a partner in another vineyard. 3D Wines already has 15 fully subscribed vineyards: seven in the Loire Valley and eight in Burgundy, including the Appellations of Chablis, Givny Macon and Pouilly- Fuisse.

Once the Appellation Controlee wine is ready, partners buy as little or as much of their quota as they wish. Partners can either collect the wine, store it rent-free for up to 12 months or have it delivered at a cost of pounds 26.04 per case of still wine and pounds 32.41 per case of champagne, including duty and insurance. Those who collect the wine themselves avoid the need to pay duty. 3D Wines will also deliver the wine to its collection point in Calais.

Wineshare Limited, a Dorking-based company, offers a similar deal. Rather than rent vines in certain areas of France it has its own vineyards, producing more than 20,000 cases of wine each year. It offers a row of 50 vines producing 10 cases of wine at a rental of pounds 50 per annum plus VAT. The wine can be bought at the production cost and the rental is fixed for 10 years.

Wineshare has two vineyards - one east of Bordeaux and the other in the heart of Provence. Members can opt out of the scheme at any time provided the company is informed at least a month before the rent becomes due in October. The vines can also be transferred to friends.

Three rows of 50 vines will yield 30 cases of wine every year. More modest consumers may prefer 100 vines yielding 20 cases, while abstemious members may opt for 50 vines and 10 cases a year.

Wineshare 01306 742164; 3D Wines 01205 820745

Ian Hunter

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