While we are often told that climate change is bad news for the environment, English winemakers are finding that their businesses are benefiting from the much warmer climate.
Global warming has been a great bonus to the English wine industry and helped to breathe new life into an old tradition. Previously, English wine production has struggled because of the country’s cold climate. But climate change has seen an increase in average temperatures during the summer and autumn, which is good news for ripening grapes. The summer is also getting less rain, which helps to contain certain diseases like botrytis cinerea and mildew, which can be devastating to wine crops.
The UK is also expected to see a significant rise in average temperatures during winter and spring, which would help to reduce the threat of late frosts ruining crops.
The growing popularity of English wines has also led to a huge increase in the number of vineyards popping up across the UK. English vineyards have experienced a growth of around 11% a year over the last decade. In 2013, there were just 1,884 hectares of land used for wine. This is grown to more than 470 vineyards and 135 wineries across the country. If this trend continues like this, then the amount of land used for wine in England and Wales is expected to double over the next seven years.
Applications to develop UK vineyards have also risen by more than 40% in the past year. Most of the UK’s winemakers can be found in the southeast of England, Hampshire and in the southwest. However, there has been an increasing number popping up as far north as Yorkshire, thanks to the increasingly warmer weather.
As UK temperatures continue to rise, there will be better opportunities for improved quality wines and we may also see new varieties being introduced, offering an exciting future for the English wine industry. However, as temperatures and crops are not always consistent and can greatly vary from year to year, wine producers may find it increasingly difficult to predict the outcome and success of their crops each year. Britain’s white wines are its strongest so far.
But at the moment, the future looks promising for English wine production. 2013 saw 4.5m bottles of English wine produced, followed by 6.3m bottles in 2014. Based on these figures, it’s expected that this will double with around 12m bottles of English wine produced per year by 2020.