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Champagne vintners eye Sussex fields for future wine production
Champagne could see a huge geographical shift in production after producers were rumoured to be looking at land a little closer to home.
In the past few years, top Champagne makers have been seen scouting around Sussex and the South Downs as potential sites to plant vines.
This may be down to climate change, which is altering the growing conditions in wine producing regions such as Champagne in France.
Sussex hosts many beneficial qualities such as chalky soil, seen in the white cliffs of Dover, in which grape vines thrive, plus the land is 30 times cheaper than in France.
Howard Corney, joint owner of Court Garden vineyard in Ditchling, said: “I would not be surprised to hear of big names buying vineyards in Sussex.
“Sussex has a maritime climate and being closer to the sea means that the temperatures are moderated meaning vineyards flourish.
“If big names were to buy and in Sussex it would be a tremendous advert and endorsement of the sparkling wine industry.
“It would most definitely raise the profile which would be beneficial all round.”
Antonio Busalacchi, of the University of Maryland in America, and research assistant Eric Hackert have analysed climate change impact on 24 of the world’s major wine producing regions.
They noted that several champagne houses had been looking at land in Sussex as potential sites because as climate warms the region it makes it more hospitable for grape growing.
Mr Busalacchi said: “Climate change will produce winners and losers among wine growing regions, and for every region it will result in changes to the alcohol, acid, sugar, tannins, and colour in wine.”
Julia Trustram Eve, managing director of English Wine Producers, said: “The reason why Champagne is the wonderful wine it is, is because it’s grown and produced in a cool climate.
“Champagne producers were looking here because the land in Sussex is very similar, and in some cases identical, to the land in Champagne.
“It’s very good for planting vines which is why we are able to compete against some of the biggest sparkling wines and champagnes in the world.”
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