Raise a glass to growing success of our wine-makers
Britain’s wine-makers could be on track to beat the French at their own game – and Devon and Cornwall are well placed to cash in.
A detailed study of land and climate has identified 33,700 hectares of prime land – an area larger than the Champagne region of France, and on similar terrain.
Climate change is propelling the region’s winemakers into the front rank.
Cornwall has 341 hectares rated in the top 5% for soil type, rainfall and sunshine, more than ten times the size of the Camel Valley estate, the county’s biggest vineyard.
Devon is even better off, with 150 hectares of top quality land, according to the study by the University of East Anglia, published today in the Journal of Land Use Science.
The researchers used new techniques to assess and grade every 50 x 50 metre plot of land in England and Wales to identity the ideal spots for new vineyards.
Based on terrain alone Devon and Cornwall, along with North Yorkshire, Hampshire, Norfolk and Essex and Suffolk, were the best. But when climate was taken into account, Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk were the best regions to start new vineyards.
Bob Lindo, founder of the Camel Valley estate in North Cornwall, said they had been keeping records. “It’s now a polytunnel warmer than when we first started,” he said.
“This year’s harvest is our best ever.”
He said there were very few places with ideal conditions, but England was better placed to expand. Because of tight limitations in France, land in the Champagne region changes hands for £1 million a hectare.
Prof Steve Dorling from UEA 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.
“But despite a trend of warming grape-growing seasons, this season has been quite unusual in terms of weather.
“English and Welsh grape yields are generally quite low and variable by international standards, so we wanted to identify the best places to plant vineyards and improve the sector’s resilience to the UK’s often fickle weather.”
Last year Camel Valley become the first UK wine producer to receive a Protected Designation Origin from the EU. A similar study by the University of Exeter in 2016 identified Camel Valley’s Darnibole vineyard as being in the top 3% of UK sites.
Sam Lindo,, chief wine maker at from the Camel Valley Vineyard in Nanstallon, at the start of this year’s harvest