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English vineyards again….

Filed under: — gavin @ 10 November 2006

Readers may recall a thorough examination of the history of English wine here a few months ago – chiefly because the subject tends to come up as a contrarian climate talking point every now and again. The bottom line from that post was that the English wine industry is currently thriving and has a geographical extent and quality levels that are unprecedented in recorded history. So whether vineyards are a good proxy for climate or not, you certainly can’t use the supposed lack of present day English vineyards in any serious discussion about climate….

So along comes this quote today (promoting Fred Singer’s latest turnaround) (my emphasis):

“The Romans wrote about growing wine grapes in Britain in the first century,” says Avery, “and then it got too cold during the Dark Ages. Ancient tax records show the Britons grew their own wine grapes in the 11th century, during the Medieval Warming, and then it got too cold during the Little Ice Age. It isn’t yet warm enough for wine grapes in today’s Britain. Wine grapes are among the most accurate and sensitive indicators of temperature and they are telling us about a cycle. They also indicate that today’s warming is not unprecedented.”

Hmmm…. so where did that bottle of Chapel Down in my fridge come from? (thanks Dad!) Or the winners of the ‘Best Sparkling Wine’ for the last two years at the International Wine and Spirit Competition? This is of course a trivial point, but it demonstrates (once again) that our contrarian friends don’t even have a semblence of a desire to get it right. The lure of a talking point clearly trumps the desire for accuracy.

In vino veritas (though not in this case).

Update: We had the Chapel Down Flint Dry last night. Fruity, hints of apple and pear and one of better whites I’ve had in a while. Highly recommended!

102 Responses to “English vineyards again….”

  1. 1

    You are quite right! There are at least two thriving vinyards within twenty miles of me in Dorset, southern England. Outside my previous home, in an adjacent street, the vine we planted 30 years ago, from the seedling we recieved from my father in law’s greenhous, is thriving!

    This year we have enjoyed the warmest spring and summer ever. The CET record will prove I am right.

    But this does not fit with the climate models, which predict a much cooler climate. Why?

  2. 2
    mlmitton says:

    The earlier vineyard post notes that the expense of transporting wine and other such obstacles created an “artificial” demand for vineyards in England. I.e., holding people’s desire for wine constant, increasing the barriers to importing wine will encourage the production of domestic wines.

    This same argument works in reverse today. England has no problem getting cheap/good wine from France or South Africa, it doesn’t matter. They don’t *have* to produce to hold church on Sunday. If England is producing it today, it must be because they can and because people want it.

    That’s a roundabout way of saying that England growing grapes centuries ago may or may not be a strong signal about the suitability of the climate at that time. But relatively speaking, growing grapes today is a much stronger signal of the suitability of the climate today.

  3. 3
    Wacki says:

    Sometimes I wonder about these deniers. Some of their mistakes are so jarringly obvious that it’s amazing these PR companies can’t find a better lobbyist. Heh, I guess they don’t need to though. The current misinformation campaign seems to be effective enough.

  4. 4
    JS says:

    Re #2

    Perhaps the key phrase is ceteris paribus – all other things equal.

    A big change in recent times would be changes in the technology of viticulture and agriculture in general. Many crops can now be grown in areas that would previously have been uneconomic. Thus, the presence or absence of wine growing in England today is pretty much immaterial if enough things have changed from Roman, Mediaeval or later times. However, provided viticultural techniques (et al) were broadly similar between Roman, Mediaeval and LIA times it could still be valid for comparisons between those periods.

    As always, it depends.

  5. 5
    Rob Miller says:

    This is the most strange post that I have ever made, but the reason that currently there is such a large increase in the mass of world-ocean jellyfish is that such a large mass of world-ocean phytoplankton have so recently died.

  6. 6
    Rob Miller says:

    so i post again. 900 ad, more or less, was a very good year in the isles de brittain, soon to be lief to a long spell of cold. the thing is our overshoot. all those great vineyards in south and center australia are taking their “lief” as we consume the last bottles of their very last production. drink on…

  7. 7
    Chris Rijk says:

    This is off-topic for the particular topic, but quite relevant to the site overall.

    The pre-publication edition of the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, can be found here:

    It covers a lot of science, from what I’ve read so far, particularly early on. For example, they have a side-bit on the “Hockey Stick debate” (page 6, Part 1):

    Much discussion has focused on whether the current trend in rising global temperatures is unprecedented or within the range expected from natural variations. This is commonly referred to as the “Hockey Stick” debate as it discusses the validity of figures that show sustained temperatures for around 1000 years and then a sharp increase since around 1800 (for example, Mann et al. 1999, shown as a purple line in the figure below).

    Some have interpreted the “Hockey Stick” as definitive proof of the human influence on climate. However, others have suggested that the data and methodologies used to produce this type of figure are questionable (e.g. von Storch et al. 2004), because widespread, accurate temperature records are only available for the past 150 years. Much of the temperature record is recreated from a range of “proxy” sources such as tree rings, historical records, ice cores, lake sediments and corals.

    Climate change arguments do not rest on “proving” that the warming trend is unprecedented over the past Millennium. Whether or not this debate is now settled, this is only one in a number of lines of evidence for human induced climate change. The key conclusion, that the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to several degrees of warming, rests on the laws of physics and chemistry and a broad range of evidence beyond one particular graph.

    Recent research, for example from the Ad hoc detection and attribution group (IDAG), uses a wider range of proxy data to support the broad conclusion that the rate and scale of 20th century warming is greater than in the past 1000 years (at least for the Northern Hemisphere). Based on this kind of 11 analysis, the US National Research Council (2006) concluded that there is a high level of confidence that the global mean surface temperature during the past few decades is higher than at any time over the preceding four centuries. But there is less confidence beyond this. However, they state that in some regions the warming is unambiguously shown to be unprecedented over the past millennium.

    Looks pretty good if you ask me.

  8. 8
    Will Glenn says:

    Over the past 20yrs there have been a number of vineyards along the South Downs, in Sussex & Hampshire, who have come on no end. And they are making damn good wines, & even here in Somerset, you can find a good Engilsh wine, some people even say better than the French. Certainly some very good organic wines, which I prefer. Drink on!

  9. 9
    Julian Flood says:

    Comparing like with like is not so straightforward as it might appear. There’s a vineyard just down the road which is actually on the site of a Roman predecessor, and it produces extremely good white and even an astonishing red. However, the Romans would have been unable to match these if their climate was identical to ours, as the white wines are from hybrids of old and new world varieties and the red is from a hybrid of a vine from the Amur River and one from Europe. Plant breeding has changed things — you might as well infer climate change from my childhood memories of the wheat harvest being in early September.

    I like measured, not inferred, data.

  10. 10
    Eduardo Ferreyra says:

    The truth is that the present Urban Heat Island Effect is what allows some minuscule vineyards in Britain.

    Of course, with a 0.6º C increase in 150 years some vineyards might grow from one acre to perhaps 4 acres -if well inside the warmed area near London. I really would like to see vineyards covering 500 hectares as we normally have in Argentina -on the dry west side of the country. Same latitude, on the east side -no vineyards (commercial ones, I mean).

  11. 11
    Bird Thompson says:

    Climate change is accelerating, let’s face it. Hopefully the new Democratic Congress will propose solutions such as eliminating tax breaks for Big Oil & promoting wind, solar & plug-in hybrid vehicles. A toast to the new congress & to the human brain, which is capable of enlightenment as well as delusion.

  12. 12
    Vern Johnson says:

    Or the Norse name for North America, “Vinland”, and yet nobody in their right mind would try to grow grapes in that barren land today. What Singer is probably trying to say, and I would agree to this extent, that mankind’s perspective on climate in the scientific record-keeping sense ie with accuracy, from generation to generation, is grossly lacking. We do NOT have the data to be very adamant. We have the data only to suggest a worrisome trend which, if true, may mean that people at my latitude, 54 degrees north, may be “blessed” with a longer growing season which is not at all worrying for me personally. In fact, we Canadians cannot wait to get those vines and palm trees in the ground. We could really use some of that global warming. Bring it on.

  13. 13
    Mike Atkinson says:

    I have three vines in my small garden in Bracknell, Berkshire (just west of London). I got enough grapes off them to keep me in eating grapes for a couple of months (about 40 bunches or rather small grapes). My garden is not ideal for growing grapes, it is shaded for part of the day.

    This doesn’t prove anything, except that modern varieties may now be grown in southern England in less than ideal conditions. A walled garden or south facing downland (chalk hills) slope will be much warmer and provide much better growing conditions.

  14. 14
    Mike Atkinson says:

    Re #10 “The truth is that the present Urban Heat Island Effect is what allows some minuscule vineyards in Britain.”

    None of the vineyards I know off in England are within the London heat island, most are a fair distance away from any habitation.

  15. 15
    Dan says:

    re: 12. As a Canadian, you owe it to yourself to read the following from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, composed of scientists, on climate change in Canada. And yes, you certainly can “wait” to get those vines and palm trees in view of the very serious consequences to a large portion of Canada.

  16. 16
    yartrebo says:

    People grow crops these days that are well outside of their range. I don’t find growing grapes in England to be nearly as odd as growing cotton in a desert. Still, why would a degree this way or that matter? All going outside of a crop’s range means is that it’s harder to grow (with the final limit being that artificial biospheres are needed for either really wild temperatures/pressures or really odd atmospheres). I’m sure that with modern agriculture, we can grow grapes in England whether or not it’s a tiny bit outside of the natural range of grapes, or their range with Medieval technology.

    What matters is economics. If England is granted a monopoly on grapes, they’ll be produced there even if they have be grown in greenhouses. If Macedonia is selling grapes for $0.01/pound (free shipping), then grapes won’t be grown in England, no matter how suitable the climate.

  17. 17
    Gene Hawkridge says:

    I was interested to learn (from comment No. 10) that Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Gloucestershire are part of “Urban Heat Island[s]”. Astonishing! A two-minute Google search might have avoided some embarrassment, however: However, some folks apparently do not believe anything they find using Google.
    This whole line of discussion does have me wondering if Leif Ericson really did find grapes growing in Newfoundland.

  18. 18
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #12: Vern Johnson & #17: Gene Hawkridge — “Viinland” (long i) means meadowland, which is correct for the Newfoundland site. See Wikipedia under “Vinland”.

  19. 19

    I suspect that the development of wine production in England in recent years has more to do with culture than climate!

    It’s interesting you mentioned that an English wine had been awarded a top prize in the sparkling wine category over the last couple of years. This is the Nyetimber sparkling wine – and very good it is too. (We live only a few miles away from the vineyard in West Sussex.)

    Yet the vineyard was set up a couple of Americans in the 1980s, the Mosses. They set-up this award-winning vineyard against the advice of the locals

    You can read more of the story at:

    Here is an excerpt ..

    “Experts have been baffled by the success of this effervescent wine. Stuart Moss, who owns the vineyard with his wife, said: “We decided Britain could be the top country in the world for producing sparkling wine, and we were the only ones in the country who thought it. We’ve changed the whole course of viniculture.”

    The couple moved to England from Chicago in the late Eighties with an idyllic retirement in mind, but instead they have found themselves working up to 12 hours a day.

    They hit upon the idea of cultivating a vinery after spotting a vineyard in Suffolk. Following a career as a leading manufacturer of medical, dental and X-ray equipment, Stuart, now 62, was not one to do things by halves.

    Together with his wife, whose career as one of America’s top antique dealers was equally prestigious, Stuart went gung-ho into the new business of viniculture.

    The pair spent months searching for the right location. Stuart said: “We did extensive research and found that greensand was the best soil to grow the Champagne grapes. But in England the soil is very rare.”

    In a stroke of luck the couple found Nyetimber Manor, a spectacular oak-timbered mansion dating back to the Domesday Book.

    In the 16th Century the manor was given to Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife, by Henry VIII, when it was embellished with a bell tower, secret passages and cavernous fireplaces.

    But what interested the Mosses most was the soil – 100 per cent pure greensand. And although grapes had not been grown there for 700 years, brethren of the Priory of Lewes had cultivated vines there in the 12th Century. They snapped it up.

    Originally they were told by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that they would be wise to stick to growing apples. But Sandy, now 51, said: “They should have realised we’re from Chicago. The more they told us not to do it, the more determined we were.”

    The vineyard is now owned by a Dutchman .. Eric Heerema

  20. 20
    Alan says:

    RE #12:

    Cheering on global warming in the hope of growing palm trees in Canada is a bit like cheering a riot in the hope it will bring you free beer. If the science and plain common-sense on this site does not convince you that there is a serious problem then nothing short of having your house sink into the mud will.

    Politically and culturally Canada is often compared to where I live (Australia). An unusual frost has killed off alot of our grapes on the vine, also apples and pears. The frost came a couple of days after record high tempratures (Melbourne: 37C in October). The headlines here say we are in the worst drought for 1000yrs, the murray-darling basin has dried up, our grain harvest will be halved. Livestock are being sent to the slaughter house half starved in springtime, the national dairy herd has been culled by 20%, regional dairies don’t have enough water to process the milk and country towns are being abandoned due to lack of water. To top it all off a cyclone flattened our bannana crop earlier this year.

    Granted, our problems are not all due to climate change, bad land management has also played it’s part.

  21. 21

    Now that Greenland has yielded its first barley crops since circa 1400, there is hope that high latitude vodka may become a reality as well as an Icelandic marketing ruse based on distilling imported grain from parts south .- details in the ‘Eric the Green’ post at my URL

    But first we must find some English cabernet to serve Dr. Singer following the thirsty work of answering questions at his November 22 appearance at Harvard.

  22. 22
    pete best says:

    Ha ha – nice one RC. I have a map of the vinyards of England and Wales of which there are 400 ot so at the present time. Sure most of them are in the south of the UK (I have visited quite a few) of which the most popular are Ridgeview, Nyetimber and Chapel Down. These Wines win awards and taste pretty good to. Another factor is that they are expanding to double production capacity due to their good quality.

    As per the Daily Telegraph article last week bemoanng the climate consensus and using the medieval warm period as some kind of reason why it cannot be happenning (again no mention of it being a local European phenomenon) with its stange interpretation of CO2 and temperature graphs etc ( I can see that the only truth in this whole debate now is RC.

    In the UK we have the stop climate chaos lobby (leftwingers) and the daily telegraph (right wingers) telling us doom or just plain wrong when the truth is somewhere in between. The left talk of abrupt climate change and the catastrophic consequences of it whilst the right deny it all. As we know from RC we are going to get warming and have some already but that does not mean the end of civilisation as we know it, just a toning down of it a bit more than likely.

    Great artciles RC, I have read everyone even if I do not pretend to understand it all I now understand your arguments quite well. Warming, yes but not the end of the world.

  23. 23

    Re “We do NOT have the data to be very adamant. We have the data only to suggest a worrisome trend which, if true, may mean that people at my latitude, 54 degrees north, may be “blessed” with a longer growing season which is not at all worrying for me personally. In fact, we Canadians cannot wait to get those vines and palm trees in the ground. We could really use some of that global warming. Bring it on. ”

    1. We do have the data. We have direct measurements of temperature going back 120-150 years. We have ice cores going back 650,000 years. In between we have tree rings, lake and ocean sediments, coral reefs, and the O16/O18 ratio in seashells. Yes, we do have the data.

    2. Your rosy picture of global warming makes it look like it’s a nice, uniform rise in temperature everywhere. It isn’t. Local climates will change UNPREDICTABLY, including yours.

  24. 24
    Jim Baerg says:

    Re #12

    Hey Vern, the latitude you mention means you’re probably near Edmonton. Haven’t you heard about how the glaciers that provide water to your city & mine have been retreating rather fast? The longer growing season won’t do Alberta farmers much good if there isn’t enough water.

    Also, even if natural sinks had been taking CO2 out of the air as fast as we put it in, it would still be wise to substitute uranium for coal for electricity generation & save the fossil fuels for running small mobile machinery like cars bulldozers & farm tractors, where we don’t have a good substitute.

    Jim 51° N 114° W

  25. 25
    SteveF says:

    Are the owners of Chapel Down Wines global warming sceptics!? From the grapes section of their site:

    “Whether the climate is really improving due to global warming is a much-contested issue, and most meteorologists will not accept that there is other than a cycle of weather that has occurred many times before down the centuries.”

  26. 26
    Bob Beal says:

    When the Norse called northern Newfoundland “Vinland” or “Wineland,” they may not have been refering to “wild grapes.” They may have been refering to the astonishing variety of delicious wild berries found in that part of the world (bake-apples, etc., etc.), out of which, I suppose, you could make good wine. I am a historian who always wondered about the grapes story, until I visited and ate the berries.

  27. 27
    Jim Roland says:

    Re: #22.

    Pete, RC have covered last week’s Sunday Telegraph feature, see Cuckoo Science.

    I’d say also that Stop Climate Chaos is neither left-wing nor alarmist. The main differences in their description of the dangers compared with RealClimate are in communication style, and scope (e.g. predicting famine falls outside pure science).

    If anything, Stop Climate Chaos and many of its higher profile members are pulling their punches, for example calling for “at least 3%” annual CO2 cuts by the UK without mentioning that more like 9% annual cuts are needed, and lacking forthrightness over brown-coal electricity.

  28. 28
    pete best says:

    Re #27 Jim, I have read the Cuckoo Science article and very good it is too, however in yesterdays Sunday Telegraph the guy resposted RC (mentioning then by name) and I just thought that it would be a good idea if RC wrote to the Daily Telegraph and put them right on the matter maybe.

    The Stop Climate Chaos lot are alarmist as they keep on postulating the idea of abrupt/sudden climate change and the idea of tipping points or the world suddenly coming unstuck. This smacks of being alarmist as RC have been at pains to point out that as nothing has really changed in terms of climate science then tipping points are unlikely.

    I know that they need to get out attention but it just makes the right push harder back when they are perceived as being alarmist which I believe that they are being myself. We can all speculate on droughts and famine and the like but what are the real projections of climate change and how trust worthy are they. We all agree (reasonable people anyway) that the world is slowly warming and that we have committed ourselves to some warming but that does not mean that the monsoons are going to stop, that all glaciers are going to disappear, that the permafrost is doomed to thaw and the rain forests are going to go up in flames. I personally reckon that all of this might happen but it is not a certainty as the STOP CLIMATE CHAOS people are very assure about.

    There was a recent phone in on national radio station in the UK to which I pointed out that it was dangerous to talk of tipping points and abrupt climate change because the science does not speak of it with any certainty as per the RC articles, the Stop climate Chaos bloke being interviewed refuted this claiming stating that GISS was being gagged by the white house and could not be trusted. I was aghast at his propoganda. Someone should tell the Stop Climate Chaos people about RC and what it is really saying about AGW.

  29. 29
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Re #28 Pete Best.

    I tend to agree. Until we know with much greater certainty, it is wrong to talk too much about the risk of extremely dangerous unforseen consequences. That is not to say that they should be wholly dismissed. For various reasons I don’t think they can. A climate sensitvity of 3degC for 2xCO2 is irrelevant if unforseen novel feedbacks kick in, but I think that to ‘lead with that story’ would be poorly considered.

    If the projections of a reduction in solar activity around the end of the first quarter of this century prove to be correct. This could reduce not only the impacts but the risk of such unforseen climate responses. And if the public have been lead to expect a cataclyism they may conclude that AGW was like the 1970s media hyped ‘ice age’. For those seeking action to reduce CO2 emissions that could be very damaging. Had the recent findings of Bryden et al (re the MOC) been given the same prominence in the press as their original findings of a decrease (which arguably they should have been). Then we would have seen another very good reason for the partially-informed to be cynical.

    The more people concentrate on low-probability high-impact scenarios the more what they argue is open to question. I’m not sure if there really is a scientific ‘consensus on impacts’ in the way that there is on human involvement in the observed warming. And I really think we need to try to stick to the IPCC’s findings, keeping the extreme end of possible impacts where it should be. As a footnote, to be noted, but not concentrated on.

    I remain concerned not only about ‘tipping points’ and rapid non-linear responses. I also remain concerned about the implications of regional underprojections of change at such an early stage in ‘the game’. But that’s not the first issue I raise when discussing climate change with people. It remains an ‘NB’, an important caveat.

  30. 30

    Just reading through comments etc. Solar and wind – do they not present their own problems? The bottom line is consumption. We consume.

  31. 31
    Grant says:

    It seems to me that unforseen tipping points are a matter of grave concern, because even if they’re of low probability, they’re of great consequence. It also seems to me that indeed, there’s no real scientific concensus on impacts (Gavin? Stefan?).

    It’s not unlike a woman finding a lump in a breast self-exam. The vast majority of such lumps turn out to be benign. But the fact that a lump has a very low probability of being cancerous doesn’t justify ignoring it or minimizing its significance. It’s not likely to be cancer, but *if it is* then it’s life-threatening. I’m reminded of a Royal Society webcast in which a climate scientist (from HadCRU, I think) pondered that if you’re boarding an aircraft, and the flight crew informed you that there’s a 10% chance the plane will crash, would you still get on the plane?

    This leaves us in something of a quandary. If we emphasize the danger then we risk being labelled “alarmist” and “unrealistic,” to the detriment of our cause. If we ignore the danger then we risk failing to alert the public to a genuine (albeit low-probability) extreme danger.

  32. 32
    john mann says:

    I was interested in the comment about English wine being about at the time of the romans (What have they ever done for us? Well there’s the wine!).

    Translations of tablets at vindolanda up near hadrian’s wall (admittedly nearly in scotland and therefore practically arctic) make it clear that the local commander got his wine imported from gaul, so that may be a comment on the quality of the local produce.

  33. 33
    Pete Best says:

    Tipping points are a bone of contention and whilst the right wing skeptics are droning on about climate change not even being real it is best not to go on about possible cataclasmic climate events of any probability. We need to win the political argument in the USA first (the EU is convinced I think) and get some action on AGW, not go on about the end of the world.

  34. 34
    guthrie says:

    Ruseell Seitz- do you have a cite for this new crop of Barley in Greenland? I have a doubter that needs to be shown that things are at least like they were 1,00 years ago.

  35. 35
    Gareth says:

    Re #29:

    And I really think we need to try to stick to the IPCC’s findings, keeping the extreme end of possible impacts where it should be. As a footnote, to be noted, but not concentrated on.

    Unfortunately, while that may appear be good tactics at the current stage of the debate, it’s not good public policy. Consider designing a building in an earthquake zone. You don’t design it to withstand the “most likely” quake, you design it to withstand the strongest quake that could occur over a given – long – period. In other words, you design for a low probability, high impact event.

    That’s exactly how we have to prepare to face the warming that’s inevitable (the “committed” warming), as well as the “expected” warming based on the emissions trajectory of your choice. Coastal communities shouldn’t assume sea level rise will be at the low end, or centre, of IPCC projections. They should reduce their vulnerability by planning for the worst case.

    Finally, a return to the topic of English wine. When I first drank the stuff in the ’70s, it was always white, made from grapes with unpronounceable German names (varieties selected for really cool climates), and often not very good. Now it looks as though the classic wine varieties of northern France (pinot noir, chardonnay etc) are being grown, and producing good wines. It’s not simply a matter of “new” varieties being better suited to the English climate. but that the English climate is becoming better suited to the good wine grapes from further south.

  36. 36
    Hank Roberts says:

    +Barley +Greenland +2006
    cites to the Economist and to Jerry Pournelle in the first few hits

  37. 37
    Steve Sadlov says:

    Here in North America, our Marine West Coast climate zone is found from far Northern California up to the Southeastern panhandle of Alaska. From a general climate standpoint, Oregon is roughly equivalent to the southern half of France, Washington roughly equivalent to Northern France and the southern UK, British Columbia is on par with the Northern UK and those parts of Scandanavia having a Marine West Coast climate. Vinyards have been in place from southern BC southward since European settlement began. I recently read an article regarding how the PDO’s cold phase might be lengthening the period affected by frosts in the areas of BC where colder weather vines are grown for making dry white wines, which is actually considered a good thing by those growers, especially if they are striving to recreate German and Austrian style wines.

  38. 38
    SlyWolf says:

    I am surprised that so many of you are suprised and disturbed by a recovery from an Ice Age…!

    Good wine is a good thing…

  39. 39
    Eli Rabett says:

    Steve Sadlov and I agree on one thing BC Rieslings (esp late harvest) are great. Too bad there are not more of them (and that you can’t get any on the US East Coast.

  40. 40
    Onno Klinkenberg says:

    To add a little topical information to the “is wine a good proxy?” debate: A recent visit to a local vineyard (I’m from the Netherlands, which is currently cut in halves by the Northern wine border) learned me that experts in that field are working on mildew resistant types of grapes. An unforeseen side effect of these new breeds is that they flower and ripen faster, so that these new varieties can be cultivated at higher latitudes, with a shorter season of acceptable temperature and rainfall. This local farmer informed me that these new breeds were a far more important reason for the shift north of wine cultivation than (in his words) “that climate stuff” we’re discussing here.

  41. 41
  42. 42

    Re “I am surprised that so many of you are suprised and disturbed by a recovery from an Ice Age…!”

    “Surprised.” In fact, by the Milankovic cycles which govern ice ages, the Earth should now be cooling, not warming. It’s not “recovering” from anything, nor does a climate “recover” from an extreme without a physical cause.

  43. 43
    matt says:

    Back to wine – surely part of the explanation for Roman viticulture in Britain was the lack of viable imports, climate notwithstanding. They liked wine, and made do with what they could grow here, since it doesnt travel well in badly sealed amphoras (wine hasn’t always been prized for it’s ageing potential). That British wines can now compete with readily available imports from Champagne, the Loire, Marlborough etc may well be testament to a warmer climate, but we have better evidence in support of global warming than wine production. It beggars belief that Singer has to propose it as an argument.

  44. 44
    Matt says:

    Re 35, no we do not build the strongest building to withstand the strongest earthquake. That is uneconomic, foolish and simply incorrect. There is always the most economical way of doing things, this is why GW alarmists are wrong, they ask too much and will never be satisfied as their demands are simply too much based on too little. The advice to meet in some middle ground is far wiser and more economically viable in the short term at least. No one goes around preparing for the worst of anything, hospitals for example might run a screen test on cancer 2 times, if they run it 3 times then they might save 1 in a thousand cancer patients, do they run the test, no, that third test on the one patient effectively costs a thousand times more and is uneconomic, same for buildings, same for public policy.

  45. 45
    pete best says:

    What about california, how is there grape harvest changing (if it all)? Are there seasons getting longer or are the grapes ripening earlier. Surely changes in the growing season are potential indicators of climate change?

    The south of the UK has growing season thatis 1 month longer than at the start of the 20th century I have been told and the UK has had the longest 6 month period of warmth since records began.

  46. 46
    guthrie says:

    THanks Hank- my own search did not find the same websites.

  47. 47
    James says:

    Re #43, and wine in general: “Wine” can be made from many things, including grape varieties other than the standard European wine grape. Upstate New York, for instance, has (or had when I was a kid growing up there) vineyards that used the Concord-type grape (think Mogen David, for instance), while going in the other direction, I’ve seen Roman-era mentions of wine made from dates. And of course there’s dandilion wine…

    The point of this is that in Roman times wine seems to been a generic way of turning fruit (which would otherwise spoil) into a storable beverage, in an era when drinking water was not a healthy thing to do. Thus without more evidence as to how and from what the Romans in Britain were making their wine, it’s not really an accurate proxy for climate at all.

  48. 48
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #45 – Each season is unique. For example, the most recent crush was a result of a very late low elevation snow event (March!), and a dreary, winter like Spring where the rains continued into June. Early July was cool, followed by the now well noted heat wave of late July. August was normal to cool, September cool. As a result, especially of the early season cold, there were fewer viable blossoms and hence, fewer overall grapes. The grapes were stunted by the rain and cold, then they had their sugar spiked by the sudden heat wave. Should be an interesting year in terms of vintages.

  49. 49
    dhogaza says:

    “What about california, how is there grape harvest changing (if it all)? Are there seasons getting longer or are the grapes ripening earlier. Surely changes in the growing season are potential indicators of climate change?”

    In Oregon, just north of California, our wineries are starting to look into the planting of warmer-weather grapes (after having put the state on the map with our fine pinot noir and pinot gris vintages).

    Observed warming has been cited as the reason why.

  50. 50
    Gareth says:

    Re: 44

    “Re 35, no we do not build the strongest building to withstand the strongest earthquake. That is uneconomic, foolish and simply incorrect.”

    You need to read some building codes. Structures where the impact of failure is great – think dams, etc – are designed to withstand low probability events. Basic infrastructure – bridges, stormwater drains and so on – are designed to cope with low probability events (100 year or greater flood event, for example). As climate change shifts those probabilities, so we have to change the building standards. To ignore the change would be “uneconomic, foolish and simply incorrect.”