Wine Regions of Europe – England

The English have always taken wine quite seriously, even if they have not been able to grow many vines because of their high latitude and wet rainy climate. Global warming is helping them, however. Growers are choosing their varieties with care, opting for climate-appropriate hybrids when necessary. Good wine, especially sparkling wine, is coming out of England.

The terms “English Wine” and “Welsh Wine” refers to wines from grapes grown in England and Wales, respectively. The term “British wine,” on the other hand, refers to wine made in Great Britain from grape juice or concentrate that can originate anywhere in the world, which usually precludes its being wine of any quality.

England has over 450 vineyards. The limestone soil in Kent and Sussex is particularly favorable for quality wine production (if one can get the weather right). The hybrid Seyval Blanc is the most populous white grape, followed by the German Reichsteiner, the German Müller-Thurgau, the German Bacchus, Chardonnay, the French crossing Madeleine Angevine, the recently-created German early-ripening crossing Schönburger, the high yielding early ripening German crossing Huxelrebe and the German crossing Ortega. Red varieties include Dornfelder, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

Note here that Seyval Blanc is a hybrid, while all the other whites here other than Chardonnay are crossings. A hybrid crosses a vinifera grape with a non-vinifera grape, while a crossing crosses two vinifera grapes. Because Seyval Blanc contains some non-vinifera genes, it is outlawed by the EU authorities for quality wine production, but this is no longer an issue for England since it is leaving the EU (Brexit).

Traditional method bottle-fermented sparkling wines, which have been beating out French competitors in recent blind tasting tests, are produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Précoce,  Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Seyval Blanc, and Reichensteiner.