Britain could become one of the world’s key wine producers by the middle of this century as global warming moves the limits of viticulture further north.
Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking
“The wine industry in Europe will certainly change to follow the climate changes,” Matthieu Elzinga, chief winemaker at Denbies in Surrey, told The New York Times. “You can’t beat the climate, so you have to follow it,” he added.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Britain’s climate is warming faster than the global average.
In Sussex, the average temperature this year was one degree Celsius warmer than it was for most of the second half of the last century, and, according to scientific projections, the UK can expect wetter winters, drier summers and less snow in the future.
“Global warming is definitely benefiting the English wine industry, which has the potential to expand at least five times, if not ten,” said Chris Foss, head of the wine department at Plumpton College.
Richard C. Selley, professor of geology at Imperial College London, has studied the potential effect of climate change on winemaking.
“I can imagine that there will be vineyards on the shore of the Loch Ness in Scotland; it has the same geology as parts of South Africa,” he told the NYT.
“The scary thing is that the newest predictions indicate that by 2080, in some of the southern areas of the UK, it will be too hot for winemaking,” he added.
Denbies has planted 30,000 vines this year, raising its total to more than 300,000.
The estate is experimenting with grape varieties like Pinot Noir, now the second-most-planted grape variety in the UK after Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, which it is about to release onto the market.
Earlier this month, Denbies hosted the third International Sparkling Wine Symposium at its estate in Dorking, Surrey.