Impact of recent climate change and weather variability on the viability of UK viticulture - combining weather and climate records with producers' perspectives

Alistair Nesbitt (Lead Author), Stephen Dorling, Belinda Kemp, Christopher Steele, Andrew Lovett

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39 Citations (Scopus)
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Background and Aims: From 2004-2013 UK vineyard hectarage increased 161%. Observed climate change and underlying weather variability were assessed for their influence on UK viticulture development and viability.
Methods and Results: UK grape growers’ perspectives on climate change and weather variability were complemented by a quantitative analysis of climate and weather data (1954-2013) for the main UK viticultural regions. Average growing season temperature (GSTave) variability was calculated and also mapped using a modelling approach. Since 1993 GSTave has consistently been above the 13oC cool climate viticulture threshold. GSTave alone does not reliably assure yield predictability but does correlate more closely following the recent increasing UK focus on sparkling wine varietals. June precipitation demonstrates the strongest relationship with yield.
Conclusion: Increasing GSTave superficially suggests enhanced UK cool climate viticultural opportunities, but critically masks the additional impact of shorter term temperature and precipitation events and high degrees of inter-annual variability that continue to threaten productivity. A recent change in dominant UK vine varieties appears to have increased viticultural sensitivity to inter-annual weather variability.
Significance of the Study: This first quantitative and qualitative analysis of climate vulnerability in UK viticulture identifies threats and opportunities, and helps steer future climate change impact studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324–335
JournalAustralian Journal of Grape and Wine Research
Issue number2
Early online date31 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

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