South­ern Eng­land ‘may ri­val France’ for wine out­put

86,000 acres of prime land iden­ti­fied

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY SAM RUSSELL

Es­sex and Suf­folk could soon ri­val the Cham­pagne re­gion of France for wine pro­duc­tion, re­search has sug­gested.

Cli­mate and viti­cul­ture ex­perts from East An­glia Univer­sity (UEA) have iden­ti­fied around 86,000 acres of Bri­tish coun­try­side that is prime land for vine­yards.

They pin­pointed ar­eas with ideal soil, ter­rain and cli­mate, match­ing those of the Cham­pagne re­gion in years past.

It comes as cli­mate change drives warmer grow­ing sea­sons in Eng­land and Wales.

Lead au­thor Dr Alis­tair Nes­bitt said: “In­ter­est­ingly, some of the best ar­eas that we found are where rel­a­tively few vine­yards cur­rently ex­ist, such as in Es­sex and Suf­folk – parts of the coun­try that are drier, warmer and more sta­ble year to year than some more es­tab­lished vine­yard lo­ca­tions.

“The tech­niques we used en­abled us to iden­tify ar­eas ripe for fu­ture vine­yard in­vest­ments, but they also showed that many ex­ist­ing vine­yards are not that well lo­cated, so there is def­i­nitely room for improve­ment and we hope our model can help boost fu­ture pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“En­ter­ing into viti­cul­ture and wine pro­duc­tion in Eng­land and Wales isn’t for the faint-hearted – the in­vest­ment re­quired is high and risks are sig­nif­i­cant.

“But, as cli­mate change drives warmer grow­ing sea­son tem­per­a­tures in Eng­land and Wales, this new viti­cul­ture suit­abil­ity model al­lows, for the first time, an ob­jec­tive and in­formed rapid assess­ment of land at lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional scales.”

Pro­fes­sor Steve Dor­ling, from UEA’s School of En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences, said: “English and Welsh vine­yards are boom­ing, and their wine is win­ning in­ter­na­tional ac­claim.

“This sum­mer’s heat­wave has led to a record grape har­vest and a vin­tage year for English and Welsh wine, prompt­ing great in­ter­est in in­vest­ment and land op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

The re­search was funded by the Nat­u­ral En­vi­ron­ment Re­search Coun­cil.

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