Climate change to affect geography of Britain’s wine industry

May 26th, 2008 - 3:43 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 26 (IANS) Soaring summer temperatures could sound the death knell of wine-making in parts of southern England by 2080, according to a book launched Monday. If temperatures continue to rise, the Thames valley, parts of Hampshire and the Severn valley, home to many vineyards, will be too hot to handle wine output within the next 75 years, said author Richard Selley of Imperial College.

Instead, these areas could be more suitable for growing raisins, currents and sultanas - things cultivated in hot climes like north Africa and the Middle East.

On the positive side, climate changes will allow new areas, including Yorkshire and Lancashire, to grow vines for wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon - currently cultivated in 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 century or so, “cool” Germanic grape varieties have been planted in British vineyards to produce wines like Reisling.

During 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 predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with his own research on British vineyards throughout history, 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, Selley said: “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”.

Brian Hoskins of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College said: “This research shows how the environment in the UK could be affected by climate change in a relatively short period of time.

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