A ‘VINE Army’ been set up to help vineyards after a shortfall in labour due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Missing Gate Vineyard, in North Woodham Ferrers, has been affected as much of its labour force is usually propped up by migrant workers.

Tom Bunting, owner of Prettyfield Vineyard in Ardleigh, has put together a volunteer scheme which has helped vineyards meet labour shortfalls.

The scheme has become known as the Vine Army.

Oliver Speakman, of Missing Gate Vineyard, said: “We have seen a really interesting theme among the locals who are on furlough from their normal jobs.

“This has presented our nation with many challenges. One of the greatest for farmers has been picking up a huge shortfall in labour, due to travel restrictions hampering our migrant workforce.

“We have large swathes of volunteers picking up a huge shortfall of labour left by the coronavirus, which is usually picked up by migrant workers.

“Given that the furlough scheme has just been extended by four months, hopefully this type of work will be more encouraged.

“Tom is on a mission to share experiences through vineyard labour, which could not come at a better time. We hope the Vine Army continues and will have Missing Gate’s full support.”