Latest research predicts growth in UK wine production due to climate change

A team of researchers, led by Dr Alistair Nesbitt of Vinescapes Ltd, with scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics, and Weatherquest Ltd have charted the potential for the UK wine sector over the next 20 years.

Drawing on the latest detailed climate projections, they have developed cutting-edge capability to model and map the best opportunities for grape growing and winemaking in the UK. This valuable research showing the best locations for vineyards in the UK – now and in the future – critical for future investors and stakeholders in the industry.

The findings are published today (Friday 8 July) in the journal OENO One, by the International Viticulture and Enology Society, ‘Climate change projections for UK viticulture to 2040: a focus on improving suitability for Pinot Noir’. The study shows how the climate of a larger area of England and Wales is projected to become suitable for reliably growing sparkling wine grape varieties, and how the potential for high quality still wine production is rapidly emerging.

Dr Alistair Nesbitt, lead author, commented: “This work is a UK first, a unique combination of climate change science, viticulture, and wine expertise.

“We found that significant areas within England and Wales are projected to become warmer by 2040 by up to a further 1.4°C during the growing season. This expands the area of suitability for Pinot Noir for sparkling wine production, but also new areas will open up within the growing season temperature suitability range for still Pinot Noir production and for growing varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, and more disease-resistant varieties, which are hardly grown in the UK at present.

“Furthermore, anyone thinking of investing in a vineyard in the UK can now benefit from this knowledge through advice on the best locations, both now and under future climate change conditions.”

The change in climate and viticulture in the UK over the last decades is evident, from the cooler climate varieties in the 1990s to the sparkling wine varieties grown today. However, the potential transition brings immense possibilities for this, one of the newest wine regions – not just further growth in plantings for sparkling wines, but towards still red wine production, bringing the UK from a minor scale wine producer to become a high-quality region that significantly alters the world wine map.

Climate change will continue to provide opportunities and may also necessitate adaptation and consideration of further variety and/or wine style change. Despite the warming growing conditions, however, the challenge of variability remains in the UK, requiring resilience and adaptation through strong viticulture skills and experience.

Any current of future investors, or existing growers, can now access this data from Vinescapes Ltd, for the best locations and varieties to grow to future proof vineyard investments in the UK.

The full press release from the University of East Anglia and the paper published in OENO One, ‘Climate change projections for UK viticulture to 2040: a focus on improving suitability for Pinot Noir’, can be accessed here.

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