Research suggests parts of UK could be too hot for wine-making by 2080

May 26, 2008

Increasing summer temperatures could mean some parts of southern England are too hot to grow vines for making wine by 2080, according to a new book launched today (26 May 2008).

The author, Emeritus Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London, claims that if average summer temperatures in the UK continue to rise as predicted, the Thames Valley, parts of Hampshire and the Severn valley, which currently contain many vineyards, will be too hot to support wine production within the next 75 years.

Instead, Professor Selley says, this land could be suitable for growing raisins, currents and sultanas, currently only cultivated in hot climates such as North Africa and the Middle East.

In addition, he adds that if the climate changes in line with predictions by the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, by 2080 vast areas of the UK including Yorkshire and Lancashire will be able to grow vines for wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon which are currently only cultivated in warmer climates like 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 100 years ‘cool’ Germanic grape varieties have been planted in British vineyards to produce wines like Reisling. In 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 temperature predictions from the IPCC and the Met Office’s Hadley Centre with his own research on UK vineyards throughout history, Professor 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, Emeritus Professor Selley from Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said: “My previous research has shown how the northernmost limit of UK wine-production has advanced and retreated up and down the country in direct relation to climatic changes since Roman times.

“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. Grapes that currently thrive in the south east of England could become limited to the cooler slopes of Snowdonia and the Peak District.”

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said: “This research shows how the environment in the UK could be affected by climate change in a relatively short period of time. Increases in temperature over the course of this century could have a dramatic effect on what can be grown here, including vines.”

Source: Imperial College London

Explore further: Climate change rewrites world wine list

Related Stories

Climate change rewrites world wine list

March 26, 2013

It's circa 2050 and shoppers are stopping off at Ikea to buy fine wine made in Sweden. A Nordic fantasy? Not according to climate experts who say the Earth's warming phase is already driving a wave of change through the world ...

Climate change is good news for English wine

November 10, 2015

While climate change menaces vineyards in southern Europe, English winemakers are raising a toast to warming weather as it improves their wines and has helped revive an ancient tradition.

Wine feels the effects of a changing climate

January 8, 2013

The signs of climate change are universally evident, but for French winemakers, already feeling the effects of competition from other countries, the year of volatile weather does not bode well. A lot of rain, a late spring ...

Recommended for you

Middle atmosphere in sync with the ocean

July 26, 2016

Water plays a major role for our planet not only in its liquid form at the surface. In the atmosphere too, it considerably affects our lives as well as weather and climate. Clouds and rainfall are one example. Water vapor, ...

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nilbud
5 / 5 (2) May 26, 2008
I'm sure a new grape variety will thrive "Hysteria Nonsensical" can thrive on the most meagre of footings.
Lord_jag
not rated yet May 26, 2008
Huh... I'll be dead by then.. At least I hope I will be...

Too bad for the future UK.
dfwrunner
5 / 5 (3) May 26, 2008
Huh? UK too hot? They make good wine in Texas and that's way hotter than UK will ever be.
PaddyL
5 / 5 (2) May 26, 2008
The article is based up[on "expert" opinion, not research. The opinion is based upon speculation, not empirical data. Why is this BS published?
earls
3.3 / 5 (3) May 26, 2008
the last i heard the uk was suppose to be an iceberg thanks to GW and the shifting of the ocean currents
TomBevis
4.5 / 5 (2) May 26, 2008
I'm sure a new grape variety will thrive "Hysteria Nonsensical" can thrive on the most meagre of footings.


That variety seems to be profitable.
RAL
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2008
The loonies are at it again. Why does PhysOrg insult our intelligence with this non-scientific nonsense? I'd settle for recycled articles on positrons and even a review of Boyles Law before this baloney.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.