Wild vines have grown
in Britain for over 50 million years. Only in the Ice Age of the
last 2 million have vines retreated from Britain during the glacial
maxima, returning during warmer interglacials, such as the present
one. The 'Winelands of Britain' uses a database of some
500 vineyards ancient and modern, to map the ebb and flow of viticulture
correlative with temperature across the British Isles since Roman
The winelands of the
world occur between the 10-20 degree C. annual isotherms. Between
these limits the interplay of geology and climate controls the
landscape within a vineyard stands, and the soil in which it grows.
The 'Winelands of Britain' shows how the interplay of geology
and climate forms important winelands such as the Pleistocene
terrace gravels of the Thames and other rivers, the sunny southern
slopes and dry valleys of the chalk Downs, , and the Palaeozoic
rocky rivieras of Wales and the West Country.
of Britain' combines geology with climate change to delineate
the past, present, and prospective winelands of England and Scotland.
In the present Industrial Revolution Warm Phase abandoned Roman
and Medieval winelands are becoming re-established, sometimes
with vineyards being re-planted on the sites of ancient ones.
New winelands, such as the Weald, have become established in areas
that were not de-forested until the Little Ice Age. Some ancient
winelands, like the Greensand Hills of Surrey, have not been re-established,
due to re-forestation. Since the publication of the first edition
in 2004 the northern limit of English vineyards has advanced from
Mount Pleasant, Lancashire, to Accomb, Yorkshire, within 5km of
Changes in the
- The latest predictions of global
warming show that the average summer temperature in southern
England may rise by 4.5-5.0 degrees C. by 2080 and by 6.0 degrees
by 2100. The new edition describes how these data can be used
to predict the areas where different grape varieties may be
planted across the UK. Some parts of southern England may be
too hot for viticulture by 2080.
- Includes new evidence of the
extent of viticulture in Roman Britain, including additional
vineyards and wine amphora potteries.
- Update of past & present vineyard
data bases, references and news of the war on 'Terroir'.
Map to show where
different varieties of grape may be grown in 2080 based on current
predictions of global warming.
THE REVIEWS OF THE FIRST EDITION
“There are two
features of Professor Selley's book which immediately recommend
it – his sense of humour and his ability to communicate
geology in layman's terms. I am not a geologist but his
hypothesis regarding the future of Britain's winelands is
both eminently readable and well documented.
“'The Winelands of Britain’
does a wonderful job depicting the terroir of Britain, an
overlooked wine producing country…For anyone interested
in the history of grape growing or the potential of vineyards
in Britain, today and in the future, this book is a must
“The Winelands of Britain”,
the blurb says, “is the author’s sixth book and the first
he has written for his own amusement”. There is an endearing
swagger about this hostage to fortune, which leaves it open
for a witty reviewer to add “and the first that can be read
for amusement too”. But this is Dick Selley, all of whose
books contain more delight and whimsy than any reader of
such titles as Applied Sedimentology(2000) has any
right to expect.’
‘Down to Earth’
This is a highly informative
book, but it is also very interesting and highly readable.
Perhaps best enjoyed over a glass of English wine – enjoy!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BRITISH WINELANDS: PAST
Viticulture in Roman Britain
Viticulture in the Medieval Warm Period
Viticulture in the Little Ice Age
BRITISH WINELANDS: PRESENT
CHAPTER 5. Geological controls on viticulture
Viticulture in the Industrial Revolution Warm Phase
BRITISH WINELANDS: PROSPECTIVE
The future of British viticulture in a changing climate
GEOLOGICAL AND OENOLOGICAL GLOSSARY
COPIES MAY BE PURCHASED
DETAILS: Selley, R.C.
2008. The Winelands of Britain: Past present & prospective.
Colour map & time chart. 47 mono. figures. 9 tables. 119 A4 pages.
Published by Petravin, P.O. Box 425, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 4WA.
ISBN ISBN 978-0-9547419-2-1 Paperback. xi + 113 pages. Colour
frontispiece. 1 colour & 49 b & w figures. 11 tables. RRP £16.00
Richard Selley is Emeritus Professor
of Geology and a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College, London.
He has used the opportunity provided by a lifetime spent travelling
the world exploring for natural resources to study the geology
of winelands, with all the collateral conviviality that such demanding
research necessarily entails.
Richard has applied his global
geological experience to the winelands of England, recommending
the planting of Denbies vineyard on the North Downs. At 105 hectares
(260 acres) Denbies is the largest vineyard in England, and one
of the largest in Europe.
Richard has communicated his knowledge
through the media, including radio, film, written articles, field
trips, workshops and lectures to audiences as disparate as MPs
in the Houses of Parliament, and members of the Dorking U3A. The
'Winelands of Britain' is the authors' sixth book, the
first that he has written for his own amusement.
You may contact the author here:
The author picking the first bunch
of grapes of the 1991 harvest at Denbies vineyard. Photo courtesy
of Malcolm Lewis