3rd November 2012
Sark’s vineyards were vandalised
Residents of Sark awoke on 3 November 2012 to find that the islands vineyards had been vandalised overnight. Persons unknown had cut the wire supporting around 40% of the 100,000 vines planted on the island by the Barclay brothers. Later the same day, 100 residents chained themselves to fences to protest against the vineyards and, two days later, several bags of fertiliser were slashed open.
David and Frederick Barclay have a home on the neighbouring island of Brecqhou and had planned to use 90 acres on Sark for growing wine grapes.
Reliance on wine
The vandalism was condemned by Sark’s Agriculture Committee, which nonetheless said that too much of the island’s available land was being used to grow a single crop. Sark was therefore becoming too reliant on just one agricultural resource.
By the beginning of November 2012, 5% of Sark’s growing land was either planted with vines or being prepared to host vines. In a 1 November press release, the Agriculture and Environment Committee of the Chief Pleas of Sark had noted that “after four years there is little evidence that the vines are succeeding”. It called for Sark Estate Management, which oversaw the Barclay brothers’ interests on the island, to “halt present work and reconsider the agricultural plans and priorities for their land in Sark”.
Two officers from Guernsey Police went to Sark to assist with the investigation into the vandalism, but no action was taken.
In October 2016, Sark’s Chief Pleas voted to start taxing alcohol production. In January 2017, The Times reported that the Barclays had brought the wine production operation to a close. By then, 28,000 bottles of wine had been produced, 8,000 of which had been pre-sold and were scheduled for release in December 2019.