This year, English winegrowers suffered one of their worst spring frosts. Despite the cold spell, the prospects for their wines long-term are pretty goodby Barry Smith / June 22, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
In May this year, English winegrowers suffered one of their worst spring frosts, wiping out up to half of the crop in some vineyards. A blow that comes just as the English wine industry is in the ascendant and many producers are collecting international medals.
It wasn’t just English vines that were affected though. Vineyards in Bordeaux and Burgundy were also hit by the sudden cold spell. The freeze came after a warm spring that brought early bud break to the vines, advancing the growing season by a week or more, leaving the vines particularly exposed. Little could be done to offset the damage.
Despite the cold spell, the prospects for English wine are pretty good. Decades of viticulture have gone into tending the vines and to learning what varieties grow best in which sites. Climate change could favour English winemaking in the future, with conditions in the south much closer to the current conditions for making Champagne. This may explain why Taittinger recently bought a vineyard in Kent. It should be remembered that some of the award-winning makers of English sparkling wines use clones of Champagne grapes and work with French oenologists, though increasingly they will call upon skills developed closer to home.
Plumpton College is the UK’s centre for viticulture and viniculture, turning out highly-trained winemakers who will shape the future of the English wine industry. And given the commercial success of Plumpton Estate wines made by the students under the guidance of Sarah Midgely, there is reason to b…