Public Release: 

History of vineyards maps Britain's changing climate

Imperial College London

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

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Notes to editors:

About Richard Selley

Richard Selley is Emeritus Professor of Geology and Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London. He has studied the geology of winelands around the world, which led him to recommend the planting of Denbies vineyard on the North Downs, Surry. This lecture coincides with the publication of his book, 'Winelands of Britain: past, present and prospective'.

More information on Professor Selley's research is at: www.winelandsofbritain.co.uk

About Denbies Wine Estate

At 265 acres, Denbies is the largest vineyard in Britain. The first vines were planted in 1986, with the maiden vintage in 1989. The 300,000 vines were planted using a laser beam to achieve the optimum level of light, air movement and nourishment for each vine as well as producing perfectly linear rows.

Website: www.denbiesvineyard.co.uk

About Imperial College London

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.

Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions, which enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

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