Prime viticultural land for new and expanding vineyards in the UK could be a major rival to the Champagne region of France.
This was according to the University of East Anglia (UEA) which found an area of about 35,000 hectares in mostly Kent, Sussex and East Anglia was best suited to expand the UK’s vineyard network due to its warm, dry and more stable land.
Every 50 by 50 metre plot of land in England and Wales was tested for its suitability, with geographical analysis techniques used to identify areas ripe for future vineyard investments as well as pinpointing sites which were ‘not that well located’.
Prof Steve Dorling, from the UEA School of Environmental Sciences, said: “This summer’s heatwave has led to a record grape harvest and a vintage year for English and Welsh wine, prompting great interest in investment and land opportunities.
“But despite a trend of warming grape-growing seasons, this season has been quite unusual in terms of weather.
“English and Welsh grape yields are generally quite low and variable by international standards, so we wanted to identify the best places to plant vineyards and improve the sector’s resilience to the UK’s often fickle weather.”
However, investment in viticulture and wine production was not for the faint-hearted and risks were significant, lead author Dr Alistair Nesbitt said.
“But as climate change drives warmer growing season temperatures in England and Wales, this new viticulture suitability model allows an objective and informed rapid assessment of land at local, regional and national scales,” he added.