Could the North East become a major producer of pinot grigio?

Global warming could be good news for the North East - boosting its chances of becoming a major wine-producing region.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 11:53 am
Britain could be a major wine producer and exporter by 2100, says a new study.

A study suggests Britain could be a major wine producer and exporter by 2100, with places as far apart as Essex and Edinburgh becoming the sites of leading vineyards.

Britain's changing levels of temperature and rainfall could produce ideal conditions for sauvignon blanc and chardonnay in as-yet-unfamiliar wine areas such as Peckham and Milton Keynes, according to the University College London (UCL) study for Laithwaite's Wine.

Changing conditions in the Midlands and Central England could see the Black Country cultivating a number of grape varieties such as chardonnay, Riesling, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.

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The North East of England, including Newcastle, and as far north as Edinburgh, are predicted to be the best place for pinot grigio.

Professor Mark Maslin and Lucien Georgeson used average temperature and rainfall conditions required for growing different grape varieties with predicted changes in climate to map changes to British viticulture over the next 85 years.

They worked on the theory that temperatures are expected to increase by at least a further 2.2C by 2100 and rainfall will increase by 5.6%.

Professor Maslin said: "Climate is critical to successful grape cultivation. This study could signal how we think long-term about British wine production and redraw the future wine map of the world.

"However, exactly where would be best for particular grapes will depend on site, slope, aspect, soil and drainage as wine-making is as much an art as it is a science."

Davy Zyw, of Laithwaite's Wine, said: "It's not long ago that experts scoffed at the idea of English, let alone wider British wine.

"Now, thanks to a changing climate, as well as passion and expertise, we could see wine buyers from all over the world coming to taste the latest UK vintages in a few generations."

Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said: "English wine is a fast-growing industry, with bold ambitions to boost production.

"In the last 10 years the area of planted vines in the UK has more than doubled, and is set to grow by a further 50% by 2020.

"So it comes as no surprise that the study by UCL is predicting a creep of vines spreading their way across the UK over the next 85 years.

"For an acre of land planted for agricultural use in Britain it is estimated the return is around £300.

"The return on your investment if you plant grapes is around £3,000 per acre, and if you turn those grapes into wine the return is £30,000 per acre.

"Vineyards are great news for rural communities and their economies, providing more and better job opportunities.

"They look set to become an enduring feature in modern-day farming in the UK."