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Friday 8 July 2022

Research a boost for UK wine industry


Look out for more and more high-quality wines from vineyards in the UK.

New research has revealed how climate change is likely to increase the potential for wine production - with conditions projected to resemble those in leading growing regions of France and Germany.

Over the last 20 years, climate change has contributed to a growth in UK vineyard area - with more than 800 vineyards now operational - and award-winning wine production, as well as a transition in wine style towards sparkling wines.

Now a team of researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the London School of Economics, Vinescapes Ltd and Weatherquest Ltd have charted the potential for the sector over the next 20 years.

Drawing on the latest detailed climate projections, they have developed cutting-edge capability to model and map the best opportunities for grape growing and winemaking in the UK.

The findings, published today in the journal OENO One, show how the climate of a larger area of England and Wales is projected to become suitable for reliably growing sparkling wine grape varieties, and how the potential for high-quality still wine production is rapidly emerging.

Lead UEA researcher Prof Steve Dorling, of the School of Environmental Sciences and forecasting company Weatherquest Ltd, said: “We’ve seen viticulture in the UK expand nearly 400% from 761 to 3800 hectares between 2004 and 2021.

“Over that period the warming climate has supported much more reliable yield and quality of the pinot noir and chardonnay grape varieties - these varieties are blended in the production of Champagne-style sparkling wine.

“Warm, dry UK growing seasons like 2018, with lower than average disease problems in the vines, led to production of a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles and these growing conditions have already become - and are projected to become - more common.”

Projections show UK wine regions becoming more like the Champagne and Burgundy regions of France, and Baden in Germany.

The study’s lead author Dr Alistair Nesbitt, of vineyard and winery consultancy Vinescapes Ltd, said: “This work is a UK first, a unique combination of climate change science, viticulture and wine expertise.

“We found that significant areas within England and Wales are projected to become warmer by 2040 by up to a further 1.4°C during the growing season. This expands the area of suitability for pinot noir for sparkling wine production, but also new areas will open up within the growing season temperature suitability range for still pinot noir production and for growing varieties such as sauvignon blanc, riesling, semillon and more disease-resistant varieties, which are hardly grown in the UK at present.

“Furthermore, anyone thinking of investing in a vineyard in the UK can now benefit from this knowledge through advice on the best locations, both now and under future climate change conditions.”

The paper can be accessed here:

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