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The Winelands of Britain:past present and prospective

Increasing summer temperatures could mean some parts of southern England are too hot to grow vines for making wine by 2080, according to ‘The Winelands of Britain:past present and prospective’.

The author, Emeritus Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London, claims that if average summer temperatures in the UK continue to rise as predicted, the Thames Valley, parts of Hampshire and the Severn valley, which currently contain many vineyards, will be too hot to support wine production within the next 75 years.

Instead, Professor Selley says, this land could be suitable for growing raisins, currents and sultanas.

If the climate changes in line with current Met Office predictions, by 2080 vast areas of the UK including Yorkshire and Lancashire will be able to grow vines for wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the last 100 years ‘cool’ Germanic grape varieties have been planted in British vineyards to produce wines like Reisling. In the last 20 years some ‘intermediate’ French grape varieties have been successfully planted in southeast England, producing internationally prize-winning sparkling white wines made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
Explaining the significance of his new study, Emeritus Professor Selley from Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said:

“My previous research has shown how the northernmost limit of UK wine-production has advanced and retreated up and down the country in direct relation to climatic changes since Roman times.
“Now, with models suggesting the average annual summer temperature in the south of England could increase by up to five degrees centigrade by 2080, I have been able to map how British viticulture could change beyond recognition in the coming years. Grapes that currently thrive in the south east of England could become limited to the cooler slopes of Snowdonia and the Peak District.”

2 Comments »

  1. Jacob says:

    Isn’t this trend happening in many other Euro wine regions? I suppose it is only a matter of time before grapes used for wine making are GM’ed to stand the heat… but this begs another question: what will become of other agricultural products in the UK that aren’t nearly as suited to higher temperatures?

  2. Jim Sefton says:

    That is very interesting. I don’t know what areas of southern England have vineyards, but I’d have thought England has such a varied climate that further North would provide opportunity. Of course this does not help the vineyard owners down south. I guess the climate over here is not very consistent either, thus making the climate less than ideal anyhow.
    Interesting article though

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