Federal Budget

Climate of change brings a new generation of British wine

Climate of change brings a new generation of British wine


Temperatures and rainfall will help British-grown grapes to produce high-quality wine

ENGLAND (Reuters) - The finest wines may improve with age, but that does not mean their makers need to be vintage, as one young British viticulteur has proved.

Twenty-year-old Ashton Kirby began working in the Bewl Water Vineyard in rolling countryside in East Sussex, southeast England, when his parents bought it in a neglected state three years ago.

Since then, the former townie, to use his own word, has gained recognition for his wine-making skills and this year won the gold award for his Reserve Cuvée 2018 from British industry association WineGB.

"These are Bacchus (grape) and these are from the 1970s. That means they are about 30 years older than me," Kirby told Reuters.

He said that warmer British weather as a result of climate change meant the grape variety now produced "fantastic wine", which he described as an English Sauvignon Blanc.

Last year, research from the University of Reading highlighted the impact of climate change on Britain's viticulture regions by 2050.

It forecast that temperatures and rainfall in regions, such as the southeast and east of England, would mean British-grown Chardonnay grapes "will be ripe enough to produce high-quality still wine in most years."

WineGB said the British wine industry was expanding at a phenomenal rate, with the area under plantation expected to double by 2032.

"What we're starting to see is the emergence of a new generation of wine-maker," its interim CEO Ned Awty said.

"To suddenly have this new youthful vigour and excitement and not constrained by perhaps the ways of thinking that were developed around the old climate is really exciting to see."

Kirby, who has a blonde mullet haircut and wore a heavy metal T-shirt, said winning the award was a great endorsement.

"It's a way of saying I'm here ... and look, I do make fantastic wine and here is the proof," he said.