Warmer climate to boost UK wine production, study finds

Higher growing season temperatures over the next 20 years are set to further boost the UK’s wine production potential, according to new modeling of the impact of ‘near-term’ climate change on the sector.

Yet wineries also need flexibility to adapt to challenges, according to the study, published in the Oeno One log and part of a wider project on climate resilience in UK wine.

The conditions seen in the excellent 2018 vintage are expected to become more common in several regions including East Anglia, Lincolnshire, South Central England, North East Wales and South Coastal areas. west of England and south Wales, according to the study.

Sparkling styles and emerging still wines should benefit, said the researchers, who placed particular emphasis on Pinot Noir.

“We found that significant areas in England and Wales are projected to warm by up to 1.4C more by 2040 during the growing season,” said Dr Alistair Nesbitt, of the consultancy in vineyards and wineries Vinescapes Ltd.

“This expands the area of ​​suitability of Pinot Noir for sparkling wine production, but new areas will also open up within the growing season temperature suitability range for still Pinot Noir production and for growing. of varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon and other disease-resistant varieties, which are hardly grown in the UK at present.

Other researchers included those from the University of East Anglia and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, as well as forecasting group Weatherquest Ltd.

The study included an analysis of climate data, such as growing season temperatures, from 1999 to 2018 in the pinot noir producing regions of Champagne, as well as the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy and the Baden region of Germany.

Modeling showed that similar climatic conditions were likely to occur in parts of England and South Wales between 2021 and 2040.

“In some years, a few regions of the UK may see growing season climates similar to those that have contributed to the best recent Champagne vintages, as well as increased potential for Burgundy and Baden style still red wines,” said said Nesbitt.

He said Carafe, “What we expect to see over the next 20 years is that growing season temperatures, in particular, as they increase [it] means more land and new areas are opening up to become suitable for growing grapes for wine production.

He said the work follows previous research aimed at mapping viticulture sites in the UK.

With the new findings, “we can advise customers not just what’s good now, but actually what’s going to be good in the next 20 years by looking at these projections,” Nesbitt said.

However, as has been widely reported, there are myriad challenges for agriculture associated with climate change, ranging from extreme weather events to impacts on ecosystems.

The researchers said they expected variable UK weather to continue to affect vintage conditions. If higher temperatures lead to an earlier growing season, vineyards could also be more vulnerable to spring frosts, they said. This has recently been highlighted as a problem in French vineyards.

While the study focuses on British viticulture, Nesbitt said it was important to “consider what more could be done to alleviate and help the elderly, established [wine] producing regions” in other parts of the world are facing severe stress and the socio-economic impact of climate change.

The authors of the Oeno One study also said the UK should remain “climate agile” and noted that “more established wine regions are looking for ways to increase flexibility in terms of production processes and ‘variety authorizations’.

Professor Stephen Dorling, from Weatherquest Ltd and the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Science, said: “There are exciting times ahead for the UK wine sector, but our findings highlighted the challenge of establishing wine identities and brands, especially those closely associated with grape varieties and wine styles, in a rapidly changing climate.

The work is part of a project on Climate Resilience in the UK Wine Sector (CREWS-UK), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council under the UK Climate Resilience Programme.

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