Second Edition

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 times.

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.

The 'Winelands 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 Hadrian's Wall.

Changes in the new edition

  • 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.




‘Wine on the web’

“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 read.”


‘Geology Today’

“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!








CHAPTER 1. Introduction.


CHAPTER 2. Viticulture in Roman Britain

CHAPTER 3. Viticulture in the Medieval Warm Period

CHAPTER 4. Viticulture in the Little Ice Age


CHAPTER 5. Geological controls on viticulture

CHAPTER 6. Viticulture in the Industrial Revolution Warm Phase


CHAPTER 7. The future of British viticulture in a changing climate




DETAILS: Selley, R.C. 2008. The Winelands of Britain: Past present & prospective. 2nd Edn.
Colour map & time chart. 47 mono. figures. 9 tables. 119 A4 pages.
Published by Petravin, 3 Lazell Gardens, Betchworth, Surrey RH3 7BF.
ISBN ISBN 978-0-9547419-2-1 Paperback. xi + 113 pages. Colour frontispiece. 1 colour & 49 b & w figures. 11 tables. RRP 16.00


Copies may be purchased using the Paypal button below, or from the author for 18.00 including post & packing. By cheque payable to R Selley No 1 account sent to 3 Lazell Gardens, Brockham Park, Betchworth RH3 7BF. To pay by Bank Transfer (BACS) please contact r.selley@btinternet.com for details.


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: Email Professor Selley


The author picking the first bunch of grapes of the 1991 harvest at Denbies vineyard. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Lewis


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