Thought France was the perfect place to produce wine? You may need to look a little further north.
For despite being better known for its steel, Sheffield now enjoys better conditions for vineyards than the Champagne region, it was claimed yesterday.
And it is all down to global warming, according to winemaker Kieron Atkinson. He said milder temperatures had led to the rapid expansion of the English wine industry, with a ‘better quality and quantity’ being produced.
Mr Atkinson, who runs the vineyard at Renishaw Hall near Sheffield, added: ‘Not only is the weather improving from a pure grape-growing perspective but it’s also getting warmer at key times. We get more flowers on the vine.
Thought France was the perfect place to produce wine? You may need to look a little further north. Kieron Atkinson (pictured) predicts a bright future for UK wine
‘There have also been increasing temperatures throughout Europe. Everything is generally moving north.’ He added that in France’s Champagne region the ‘climate is getting hotter and therefore worse for champagne’.
Mr Atkinson, who produces up to 10,000 bottles a year from the small vineyard in northern Derbyshire, said: ‘Over the last ten to 20 years the weather has changed hugely in this part of the world.
‘Twenty years ago our weather was not perfect for growing fruit.
‘We’ve seen temperatures akin to what Champagne was 20 years ago, which means the weather is now perfect for growing Champagne grapes and sparkling wine varieties right here in the UK.’
Grape expectations: Renishaw Hall & Gardens. Mr Atkinson, who runs the vineyard, said: ‘Not only is the weather improving from a pure grape-growing perspective but it’s also getting warmer at key times'
He said improved temperatures were the ‘key factor’ behind the flourishing of his vineyard (pictured: One of the vineyard's rosés)
He said improved temperatures were the ‘key factor’ behind the flourishing of his vineyard, which was planted in 1972 and was once the most northerly in Britain. The British wine industry produced 15.6million bottles last year – up from 6.3million in 2014.
‘It’s a really exciting time,’ said Mr Atkinson. ‘It’s going to be a new industry for England and, even though there are not many vineyards around the UK at the moment, there will be many more coming.’
Britain’s most northerly commercial vineyard is believed to be Ryedale in North Yorkshire, which produces 7,000 bottles a year from around 12 acres of land. John Fletcher, whose family run it, said: ‘I’d rather be in the UK than in Champagne. We have better conditions than they have currently.’
But he said the ‘jury is still out’ as frost in English vineyards was also destroying crops.