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.
“Climate change is benefitting us a lot,” said Chris Foss, head of the Wine Department at Plumpton College, the first to offer courses in winemaking in Britain and a symbol of its maturing wine industry.
“Generally speaking for the English wine industry climate change has been a big big bonus, it really helps us develop.”
England has gone from having only a few wineries three decades ago to having more than 600 today, according to Alistair Nesbitt, who researches climate change and the wine industry at the University of East Anglia.
Most of Britain’s winemakers are located in Surrey, Sussex and Kent in southeast England and in Hampshire in the southwest. But more have begun to spring up in the north, particularly in Yorkshire and Scotland.
Global warming means “an increase in average temperatures during the summer and autumn, which is good for ripening the grapes” according to Julien Lecourt, head of viticulture research for East Malling Research in Kent.
Scientists also predict a rise in average temperatures in winter and spring, and less rain in summer, which would help to contain diseases like botrytis cinerea and mildew.
Higher minimum temperatures during winter and spring would also mean less dangerous late frost to crops, Lecourt added.
(Read more from AFP here)