UK Climate Change: Agriculture/Wine-making

Imperial College London

Public release date: 25-May-2008
Danielle Reeves

” … Selley predicts that … cool and intermediate … varieties
will be confined to
the far north of England … with ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ varieties seen throughout
the midlands and south of England.”

Research suggests parts of UK could be too hot for wine-making by 2080

Increasing summer temperatures could mean some parts of southern
England are too hot to grow vines for making wine by 2080, according
to a new book launched today (26 May 2008).

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, currently only cultivated in
hot climates such as North Africa and the Middle East.

In addition, he adds that if the climate changes in line with
predictions by the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, by 2080 vast areas of
the UK including Yorkshire and Lancashire will be able to grow vines
for wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon which are currently only
cultivated in warmer climates like the south of France and Chile.

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

Combining temperature predictions from the IPCC and the Met Office’s
Hadley Centre with his own research on UK vineyards throughout
history, Professor Selley predicts that these cool and intermediate
grape varieties will be confined to the far north of England,
Scotland and Wales by 2080, with ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ varieties seen
throughout the midlands and south of England.

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.”

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for
Climate Change at Imperial College London, said: “This research shows
how the environment in the UK could be affected by climate change in
a relatively short period of time. Increases in temperature over the
course of this century could have a dramatic effect on what can be
grown here, including vines.”


Professor Selley’s book is called ‘The Winelands of Britain: past,
present and prospective.’ It is the second edition of a work first
published in 2004. The new edition includes additional material on
the future of UK viticulture, in light of recent climate change

Professor Selley is presenting his new work at a special lecture at
Denbies Vineyard in Dorking, Surrey, at 2.00pm on Monday 26 May 2008.
For a complimentary ticket to the lecture please contact Jeanette


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