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The Swiss grape reshaping Britain's red wine landscape

The prospect of Britain crafting a red wine with the audacity to stand toe-to-toe with the esteemed Bordeaux or Burgundy is no longer a distant dream, thanks to the introduction of Divico, a Swiss grape variety. British wines, having carved a niche for themselves in recent years, are on an upward trajectory, with a staggering 74% increase in plantings recorded over the past half-decade, as per Wine GB statistics.

The UK is home to 943 vineyards, a testament to the burgeoning wine industry that produced an impressive 12.2 million bottles in 2022, more than double the output five years prior. Sparkling wine has been the jewel in the crown of British viticulture, thanks in part to the nation’s chalky soil that is conducive to producing Champagne-style wines.

However, the Divico grape variety is poised to usher in a renaissance for British red wines. A hybrid of Gamaret and Bronner, Divico is renowned for yielding a robust, full-bodied wine, equipped with a commendable frost tolerance and formidable resistance to fungus. These traits render it an ideal candidate to thrive amidst England’s chilly springs and rain-soaked autumns.

The Divico grape’s adaptability is further underscored by its ability to fully ripen within a short season. The vine’s design, characterized by loose bunches and ample foliage, facilitates efficient air circulation, a crucial element for the plant’s health, especially in the damp British climate.

The challenge that lies ahead is equipping British winemakers with sufficient resources to cultivate Divico on a large scale, honing the art and science of winemaking to elevate British reds to international acclaim. Pattingham Vineyard’s ‘Rudge Heath’ has already made headway, producing a commendable medium-bodied red out of Wolverhampton. Similarly, Yotes Court is making significant progress in Kent.

As the Divico grape variety takes root in British soil, the dream of a domestically produced, full-bodied red wine that could potentially rival the iconic French varieties is blossoming into a tangible reality. The infusion of Swiss innovation into British viticulture heralds an exciting chapter for wine enthusiasts and producers alike, as the UK inches closer to unveiling a "Kent claret" that could potentially hold its own on the global stage.


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