On Friday 28 September, Europe's largest greenhouse vineyard could be admired on television. In Dutch TV program BinnensteBuiten, chef Leon Mazairac and sommelier Lendl Mijnhijmer visited Egchel in Limburg, where a former rose nursery of 1.5 hectares was turned into a vineyard in 2015. Winemaker Joep van Schaijk: "It actually is very simple. To protect the plants against the Dutch climate and against vermin and birds, we cultivate in a greenhouse. We do not light nor heat the greenhouse."
In order to start the vineyard, Joep first looked for help from hands-on experts. As it turned out, these could not be found. "What we intended to do, did not exist at all. So we started experimenting ourselves. One of the advantages is that we can now determine ourselves when the plants are irrigated and when they are not. We can control everything ourselves." A disadvantage is that the plants are not directly in contact with the soil, but we also thought about this aspect. "The soil is important for the taste of the wine and so once a year we mix organic manure in the soil below the ground cloth."
In the greenhouse the chef and the sommelier couldn’t believe their eyes and saw, to their big surprise, wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and the Spanish Tempranillo wine grow in the greenhouse. Joep, who, in addition to the greenhouse, also makes and bottles the wines himself: "With age the wines have to improve steadily."