With English winegrowers hailing the 2018 harvest as the ‘vintage of the century’, producers are no doubt scouting around for the best locations in this green and pleasant land in which to expand their vines.
Thankfully help is at hand, with the release of timely research from the University of East Anglia that identifies England and Wales’ most suited sites for viticulture.
The three-year research, led by Dr Alistair Nesbitt, employed a new model that assesses land based on variables such as aspect, elevation, rainfall, and soil. Nesbitt told Imbibe that ‘the best vineyard lots were found in Essex, South Suffolk, Kent and Sussex, but also, unexpectedly, along southern coastal areas’.
Despite the high number of variables accounted for, the best sites’ key features were found to be temperature in the growing season and little rainfall, but also climatic stability year-to-year, which is often overlooked, according to Nesbit.
‘The least suited,’ said Nesbitt, ‘would not show in our model, but generally tended to be those with too high an elevation – above 150m, too exposed, too frosty or where the soil gets waterlogged easily.’
The study, which has the catchy title of A suitability model for viticulture in England and Wales: Opportunities for investment, sector growth and increased climate resilience, published in the Journal of Land Use Science, is now available via Dr Nesbitt’s English Vine & Wine Consultancy.