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Sussex is just vine: County could become wine-producing capital of UK
Updated 5:35pm Wednesday 17th July 2013 in News
Corks are popping after experts revealed sunsoaked Sussex could become the wine-producing capital of the UK.
In a study, scientists at Plumpton College pinpointed the county’s coast as a prime hotspot for new vineyards.
Hotter temperatures mean grape harvests are set to boom with projected production estimated to triple over the next 12 years.
Experts said the 'potential alcohol' of English grapes, which is an indicator of the strength of wine they could make, has shot up from between five and seven per cent to between 12 and 14 per cent.
The study combined satellite technology, soil analysis, climate and topography to identify the best wine-producing spots in the region.
In recent years giant vineyards have popped up in the Sussex countryside including the Rathfinny Estate near Alfriston, where 300 more acres are being planted.
And just last month, a Sussex vineyard produced what was believed to be the first international award-winning English red wine.
Sedlescombe Vineyard beat off fierce competition from more than 50 other wines produced in regions all over the world, including Greece, Italy, Portugal, Sicily and Cotes du Rhone.
Other successful Susex vineyards include Bolney Wine Estate, Breaky Bottom, Sedlescombe, Nutbourne and Upperton.
Mike Roberts, co-founder of the Ridgeview Wine estate near Ditchling, said the warmer climate was helping the county produce better wine.
He said: “A key measure is the number of days you get here where temperatures rise above 29C.
“In the 1960s there were virtually no such days. In the 1970s we had one year and in the 1980s there were maybe three such years, but in the 1990s we saw it repeated year after year.
“We have had some bad years, but there is a clear trend.”
But the long-term trends do not guarantee perfect weather every year.
Last year Nyetimber Vineyard in West Chiltington, Englands largest vineyard, scrapped its 2012 vintage of around 400,000 bottles after cold and rain ruined the crop.
Wine expert Stephen Skelton said: “Weather varies and there will still be bad years as well as good.”
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