UK could become too hot to produce wine

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Climate change, Wine

Climate change could mean some parts of southern England will be
too hot to for wine-making by 2080, according to a UK professor.

Rising summer temperatures have already started to evolve the UK's wine profile, with some French grape varieties being successfully introduced there in the past 20 years. However, emeritus professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London claims in a new book that if temperature rises continue, areas such as the Thames Valley, parts of Hampshire and the Severn Valley will be unable to support wine production. Instead, the land may become suitable for growing raisins, currents and sultanas, said Selley. These products are currently only cultivated in hot climates such as North Africa and the Middle East. "Grapes that currently thrive in the south east ofEnglandcould become limited to the cooler slopes of Snowdonia and the Peak District,"​ said Selley. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Met Office's Hadley Centre predicts UK temperatures will rise by up to five degrees centigrade by 2080. UKwine ​According to the most recent figures provided by the English Wine Producers, there were 362 vineyards and 102 wineries in the UK in 2005. White wine production far surpasses red wine. From 22 white grape varieties, 2,691,200 bottles of white wine were produced in 2006. Meanwhile, 677,733 bottles of red wine were produced in the same year, from seven red grape varieties. Nonetheless, the UK cannot compete in output with the world's top producers, France and Italy, providing between seven and eight billion bottles per year each. For the last 100 years, British vineyards have concentrated on Germanic grape varieties, which fare well in cooler climates. This has led to the production of wines such as Reisling and Muller-Thurgau. However, according to Selley, French grapes such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay have recently been planted in southeast England. This trend will continue as temperatures rise, he said. In fact, he predicts cool and intermediate grapes will be confined to the far north of England, Scotland and Wales if current temperature predictions are accurate. Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, said: "This research shows how the environment in theUKcould 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." Climate change ​Global warming and the changing climate could affect agriculture in many ways and cut yields, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). It has already been partly to blame for poor harvests experienced in the past couple of years, which have damaged stock and contributed to food shortages and increased food prices. Additionally, the FAO said unpredictability could make farm planning more difficult and the sea-level would rise, threatening coastal agricultural land. Biological diversity would be reduced, distribution and quantities of fish and seafood could change dramatically, and pests and vector-borne diseases would spread into areas where they were previously unknown. Governments have begun enforcing environmental policies to curb climate change. For example, recent EU Commission's proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) health check include provisions to help the environment. The Commission suggests subsidies to wealthy farms be progressively cut with the funds going instead to help programmes involved in climate change, renewable energy, water management and biodiversity.

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