Wine production is tough in UK, warns viticulture expert

Growers looking to diversify into wine production should consider the many drawbacks of doing this in the UK, an international viticulture expert told last month’s Fruit Focus.

“Yields are relatively low here,” Dr Richard Smart of consultancy Smart Viticulture said.

“The UK is cold, particularly in spring, which pushes growth back, and then there is also the risk of frost. It also has too much wind and rain – you want around 600mm a year.”

This causes too much vegetative growth at the expense of ripening, and also encourages mildew and Botrytis, he pointed out, adding: “I wouldn’t encourage you to do it organically or biodynamically in the UK – don’t make it any harder on yourself.”

He also urged: “If your site’s at all windy you need to plant windbreaks, of which the cheapest and most effective are trees.”