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English Champagne?
The area covered by vineyards in Britain is growing

Global warming is changing the landscape of the United Kindom.

Clouds disperse as the area under wine growing in the UK expands
"Vineyard at Wyken Hall - - 216836" by Bob Jones. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - / CC BY
Clouds disperse as the area under wine growing in the UK expands
The Guardian newspaper reports a significant increase in wine production in Britan, especially sparkling wine. With the release of the final production figures for the 2014 vintage, it is now clear that the equivalent of 6.3 million bottles of English still and sparkling wine significantly exceeded the previous record of some 4.3 million bottles in 2013.

Previously the main characteristic of English wine in general and sparkling wine in particular, has been its novelty value, but increasingly it is being recognised for its quality and is winning prizes at international tastings. Spurred on by this success the planted area of vineyards in the UK has been increasing rapidly and over the past seven years the amount of land devoted to wine growing has doubled and production increased by 43%. The changing climate, with increasingly warm spring and summer temperatures, is making it possible.

It is reported by the United Kingdom Vineyards Association that there are now more than 2000 hectares of land under cultivation for wine production and this is not restricted to the mild south-east of the country, where 145 vineyards are to be found, even if this is where the greatest impact on the landscape can be noticed. The North of England region has 18 member vineyards of the Association, Wales 22 and there are even four in Scotland.

The Sussex Wine Producers Association, representing vineyards located within the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs, the location of England’s newest National Park are in the last stages of preparing abid for the European Union’s protected designation of origin or ‘appellation contrôlée’ status, so it can be assumed that UK wine growing is ‘here to stay’.

The chalk hills which make up the South Downs are part of the same geological formation which runs through the French Champagne region some 88 miles (140 km) to the south. And as the local sparkling wine producers are quick to explain, it was Christopher Merret, an Englishman, who first described the secondary fermentation technique - what has since become known as the méthode champenoise - in a paper to the newly established ‘Royal Society’ in 1662, at a time when the Champagne region was only producing still wines.

Not since Roman times will vineyards have had such a big impact on the traditional countryside of the British Isles, but exactly what the extent of the landscape impact will be remains to be seen.

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14. May 2015
Reported by Richard Stiles, Vienna


cultural landscape (en), climate change (en), National Parks (en), wine landscapes (en)

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