Grape expectations for local vineyards

SUN-SOAKED vineyards like those in the south of France could be covering large swathes of East Anglia by 2080, according to a university professor.

David Green

SUN-SOAKED vineyards like those in the south of France could be covering large swathes of East Anglia by 2080, according to a university professor.

Much of England will be suitable for growing grape varieties which only thrive in warm or hot conditions, said Professor Richard Selley, whose book, The Winelands of Britain, Past, Present and Prospective, is published this week.

Some southern parts - including Hampshire and the Thames Valley - could even become too hot for grapes and would have to concentrate on raisins, currants and sultanas - presently produced only in the hottest regions of the world, he claimed.

However, one Suffolk vineyard said yesterday that while a warmer climate would bring opportunities, higher temperatures and extremes of weather could also bring more problems for local wine producers.

Climate models suggest that global warming could push up summer temperatures in the south of England by as much as 5C by 2080.

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Prof Selley, from Imperial College London, said: “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.”

Work by the professor has shown how the northern boundary of UK wine production has advanced and retreated since Roman times in response to climatic changes.

Different grapes flourish in different temperatures and are grouped into cool, intermediate, warm and hot varieties.

For the last 100 years “cool” Germanic grape varieties have been planted in British vineyards to produce wines like Riesling.

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