Better than the South of France? British vineyards booming

Ruth Doherty

The hottest British April since records began, and continued high temps mean British vineyards are booming - and could even give French wine a run for its money.

England has seen better weather than its foreign neighbours in recent weeks, leaving vineyard owners very excited about this year's harvest - there's even talk of 'record-breaking crops'.

Thanks to the warm temperature and low rainfall, buds have emerged earlier than usual.

This will allow vineyards to gather their crops earlier – to avoid the weather damage often associated with autumn – or to allow the grapes to mature longer on the vine creating a better wine.

With vines growing up to three weeks ahead of schedule in some cases winemakers could be harvesting grapes in mid-September.

Hillary Waller, who owns Eastcott Vineyard in Okehampton, Devon said she was looking forward to a 'brilliant year'.

While Sam Lindo, from the Camel Valley vineyard near Bodmin in Cornwall, told the Telegraph: 'What normally dictates a really good crop for us is a good start to the year like this. I have never seen them looking so healthy as they are at the moment.'

Julia Trustram-Eve, of English Wine Producers, said there was a possibility of 'record-breaking crops' although there is also still a chance of frost.

Britain currently boasts around 400 vineyards, with the Queen recently giving the trade a boost by announcing she would be producing her very own English sparkling wine at Windsor Great Park.

More than 16,000 vines were planted in a project that has been overlooked by the Duke of Edinburgh.

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