History of vineyards maps Britain's changing climate

05/27/04

The locations of vineyards across the UK during the last 2,000 years and what they may tell us about how our climate has changed will be tackled in a lecture by Professor Richard Selley of Imperial College London on Wednesday 2 June.

Professor Selley's examination of wineland geology has resulted in the compilation of a database mapping the locations of over 500 ancient and modern British vineyards. He says:

"Wild vines have grown in Britain for over 50 million years. Only in the Ice Age of the last 2 million years have they retreated, returning during warmer phases such as the present one.

"The use of vines as a marker for climate change was first suggested some 2,000 years ago by the Roman writer Saserna. This study is another illustration of the old dictum that we inhabit this planet courtesy of its geology."

Professor Selley's lecture, based on findings published in his book 'Winelands of Britain', will illustrate the changing face of UK vineyards through the Roman and medieval warm phases, and the 'Little Ice Age' of the15th to 19th centuries, to the modern warm phase of the industrial revolution.

Integrating geology with predicted patterns of climate change, he will go on to map the distribution of Britain's future winelands. Promising areas over the coming decades include south-facing slopes of the Derbyshire Peak and the Lake Districts but, says Professor Selley, the prime winelands of the future will be in Scotland, particularly the north side of the Great Glen.

"Here, the geology is similar to the Cape winelands of South Africa," he explains. "It also has sunny south east-facing slopes that will benefit from enhanced solar radiation reflected from the waters of Loch Ness, providing an ideal landscape for viticulture."

The lecture will take place at 11am on Wednesday 2 June at Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey, as part of English Wine Week.

To confirm attendence contact Margot Bester at Denbies Wine Estate - margot@denbiesvineyard.co.uk

Source: Eurekalert & others

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