British Wine Benefits as the Climate Changes
on 14/12/13 at 12:39 pmWine
For more than a decade, Matthieu Elzinga ran his own vineyard in the western Loire Valley of France. But this year, just as he was gaining an international reputation for his dry and crisp Muscadets, Mr. Elzinga sold the vineyard and moved to an emerging wine region: the south of England.
A successful French winemaker’s leap to Britain may sound contrarian — traitorous even. But it may be no more striking than the fact that English sparkling wines have recently been beating Champagnes at international competitions. Or that the British wine industry has been growing at double-digit rates for a decade and doubling in size over the last 30 years.
More obvious, though, may be the meteorological motive that is at least partly behind Mr. Elzinga’s move. By the middle of this century, Britain could become one of the world’s big wine producers, as global warming moves the limits of viticulture ever farther north.
“The wine industry in Europe will certainly change to follow the climate changes,” said Mr. Elzinga, who is now chief winemaker at Denbies Wine Estate, one of Britain’s largest vineyards. “You can’t beat the climate, so you have to follow it.”