The Choice of Vine Varietals for the English Vineyard

The choice of vine cultivars can be very confusing for the English wine producer due to the large number of varietals available and to the lack of reliable data on the performance of different varietals under English conditions.

Winkler suggests that there are as many as 8,000 different vine cultivars, including wild and table grapes, while Jancis Robinson lists 1000 as important to today's wine drinker. Also, since 1882 when Muller-Thurgau was developed, there has been constant research by continental viticultural stations (particularly in Germany) to produce better and more productive vines varietals. To complicate the picture further, it is common to find significant differences in performance in different clones of the same varietal!

Accurate and reliable information regarding the performance of varietals in the UK is difficult to find as there are no government research stations to assist growers. Choice of a vine from its performance on the continent is not a recommendation for UK growers since the performance of vines is found to be remarkably different over here. There are also further complications, such as the effects of rootstocks, soil, meso- and microclimate etc.