Characterising and adapting to climate risks in the UK wine sector

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Grantham Research Inst on Climate Change

Abstract

The cultivation of wine grapes under cool-climate conditions in England and Wales is rapidly expanding and resulting sparkling wines in particular are winning international awards and acclaim. Warming growing season trends associated with global warming are supporting growth in vineyard numbers and the planting of more consumer popular grape varieties, while also attracting significant international investment interest. However, while the 2018 growing season has produced a record harvest, in very grape-friendly growing conditions, year to year fluctuations in climate still regularly threaten the sustainability of the sector. Yields are still on average less than one third of those found in the Champagne region of France, for example, and in certain years such as 2012, some English vineyards harvested no grapes at all.
The proposed collaboration is between the London School of Economics and the University of East Anglia. Researchers at each institute have highly relevant experience, for example, the team includes a wine sector specialist, a climate scientist and a social scientist with experience of adaptation in businesses.
The first aim of this research is to capitalise on the launch of new future climate change projections for the UK to assess how critical growing season characteristics for wine grapes may change over the coming decades. We propose to develop our research which has focused upon the development of the wine sector up to now, to show how future climate trends out to 2050 may influence the sector, and thereby offer guidance to enhance the sector's resilience to climate change.
Second, working directly with the national organisation for grape growers and winemakers (Wines of Great Britain), we will examine how businesses make decisions about adapting to future climate change, thereby helping to ensure that this fledgling industry has a bright future.
As yet, there is limited information about climate change that wine producers or investors can use for decision making.
The research has the following objectives:
1) To produce a very detailed dataset of air frost risk (still a critical hazard for grape growth) to more accurately quantify local frost risk and hence site suitability for growing grapes (viticulture) in the current climate.
2) To develop indicators of climatic risk under future climate change for the 2030s and 2050s based on newly available climate model projections for the UK.
3) To assess decision-making processes with respect to adaptation in the wine sector and examine the role of perceptions of climate change risk and opportunities in decision-making.
The wine sector can be used as an example of an 'early adoptor' of climate adaptation in the UK through which there is an opportunity to study the process by which businesses are making decisions about risk management. Since the overall direction of change in climate has been positive for UK wine production this proposal focuses, unusually, on both the opportunities and risks of climate change.
Our research will use a multi-methods approach. Climate science for the development of new climate projections and climatic risk factors. And social science or qualitative methods (interviews and survey) to understand the resilience and behavioural dimensions of adaptation.
The research is designed to generate practical support for adaptation to climate change in the UK (climate resilience) particularly for, but not restricted to, the wine sector. Informed by our longstanding relationship with stakeholders in the wine sector we will advise national climate change assessments and policy processes through consultation. We will work alongside Wines of Great Britain to ensure a co-designed and shared approach. We will work with a Communications and Policy team to identify audiences and the main messages from our results and prepare a Policy Brief for decision-makers and a short video (for YouTube) that captures our key recommendations.

Planned Impact

Impact is integral to our aims and activities, from initial design, informed by our longstanding relationship with stakeholders in the wine sector, ongoing through the research process and into the planning of dissemination activities and outputs. Much of our research experience has been informed by conversations with target audiences and we will seek their inputs throughout the research and dissemination processes.
We believe our strategic choice of the rapidly growing Great Britain wine sector will ensure strong policy interest and uptake of results facilitated through effective communication tools and relevant channels.
Sector-specific impact - Dr Nesbitt and Professor Dorling have strong connections with individuals, organisations and businesses in the UK wine production sector. We have agreed collaboration with Wines of Great Britain, the national body for all grape growers and wine producers in Great Britain.
Specific activities include promoting new viticulture related climate projections and bioclimatic indices to vineyard managers through a programme of presentations delivered through Regional Grower Associations. We will prepare briefing material on emerging climate risks and opportunities to use with stakeholder surveys and so raise awareness and understanding across the sector.
National processes - We will inform processes such as the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3). PI Conway is part of the successful team that won the bid to prepare the CCRA3 Evidence Report Technical Chapters. As a contributing author he will ensure that results from this project feed into relevant chapters. Where opportunities arise we will target consultations and meetings that comprise part of other national processes such as the National Adaptation Programme.
We will work with a Communications and Policy team to define audiences and messaging and prepare a Policy Brief to capture key insights from the project. Publication will be timed to achieve maximum impact by tying-in with an article publication, launch of the video (see below) or a wine sector event.
Wider impact, public and media - Due to very positive feedback from stakeholders in a previous project we will produce a short video that will capture key insights from the research that are relevant for stakeholders in the wine sector and more broadly for businesses.
Our recent work in the climate-viticulture space is already attracting significant industry attention, typified by the article authored by Andrew Jefford on the Decanter website (December 3rd, 2018; https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/opinion/jefford-on-monday/jefford-on-monday-where-to-plant-uk-vineyards-405311/):
"A flourishing English sparkling wine scene is one of the few pieces of climate-change good news, and the magnificent 2018 English wine harvest has brought it into close focus. The timing, therefore, could hardly have been better for the publication of an academic paper last month outlining what we might call the terroir potential of England and Wales. Lead author is Dr Alistair Nesbitt from the English Vine and Wine Consultancy, working with Professor Stephen Dorling and Professor Andrew Lovett of the University of East Anglia."

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our blog contributed to increasing interest in our research from grape growers and winemakers, as well as from academic and other practitioner audiences. It has also helped us establish a visible online project presence, to support our broader interactions with sectoral actors. For example, we have been invited to present the results of our research at DEFRA later in the year and were approached by The Guardian newspaper to offer advice on an article they were running on climate change and viticulture. It has also offered a resource that we have been able to share, to set the tone for the analysis that we are doing, as we recruit research participants from within the sector and we have received good feedback on this when we have done so.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Blog on the need for climate change to be integrated into sector planning as the sector grows. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We wrote a blog drawing on initial learning from within the project, as well as earlier research from within the team on the importance of integrating climate change projections and resilience planning into the UK sector now, given how quickly the sector is growing within the UK. The blog reflected on the relative opportunities for UK viticulture to be structured in ways that are responsive to climate change projections and to build resilience within the sector as it emerges - in comparison to more established viticulture landscapes which have already produced lock-in and thus face additional barriers to adaptation. The blog highlighted the risks of recreating this lock-in and reducing future flexibility and adaptive capacity within UK viticulture landscapes, if climate projections are not taken into account in key decisions around vineyard planting and the location of vineyards. The blog was published to align with UK Wine Week 2019.
The blog was published on the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, featured on the home page and located on the project-specific webpage developed for the project. It was viewed 524 unique times. It was also republished by LSE business review and featured on the front page.
The primary audience was academic. Nevertheless, it was also accessed by sector practitioners and producers, as well as journalists. For example, the article it was shared by WineGB, the national grape grower and wine producer association on social media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/for-sustainable-growth-in-the-uks-wine-producing-industr...
 
Description Invited presentations to British Beet Research Organisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two invited talks to the British Beet Research Organisation's BeetTech20 events (East Anglia). Approx 150 sugar beet growers at each event. The video of the presentation is available here:
https://bbro.co.uk/events/
The presentations were to provide information on climate and farming and to highlight aspects of this research project on climate change and wine growing in the UK.
There was subsequent coverage of the presentation in the Eastern Daily Press:
https://www.edp24.co.uk/business/farming/climate-change-has-made-norfolk-a-hotspot-for-wine-says-uea-professor-1-6504526
https://www.edp24.co.uk/business/farming/prof-steve-dorling-of-uea-and-weatherquest-speaks-at-bbro-beettech20-conference-1-6504363
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://bbro.co.uk/events/
 
Description Presentation and survey with member of WineGB at National AGM event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A presentation was made giving an overview of the issue and the project aims. An outline of potential activities and products was given and feedback sought. An interactive survey was conducted with the members using electronic voting equipment - the questions were designed to asses interest in different types of project outputs. The results of the survey and discussion informed subsequent design of the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://thefruitgrower.co.uk/winegb-agm-and-climate-change-sustainability-conference/
 
Description Presentation to stakeholders; Southeast England WineGB members at AGM 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A presentation was given to key stakeholders to present the aims of the project and to seek feedback on the aims, design and outputs, and to raise awareness about planned activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description We have developed a range of other written communication tools to share preliminary research findings with wine sector actors 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We have developed a range of other written communication tools to share preliminary research findings with wine sector actors, raise interest in our research and communicate our activities with sector-specific, as well as academic audiences. These include:
- a dedicated Climate Resilience in the UK Wine Sector (CREWS-UK) project webpage, hosted on the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (LSE) website;
- A project flyer, also hosted on the project website and disseminated directly to growers in email communication to support participant recruitment;
- A written introduction to our project in the WineGB, the national grape growers and wine makers association, newsletter.
These communication products have provided online visibility to our work, allowed us to communicate our research goals and preliminary finding and problem framings and receive feedback from audiences. As one outcome of this, our team was approached by The Guardian newspaper to provide guidance on an article they were writing on climate change and viticulture. The contents of these communications has also been discussed with grape growers and wine producers during one on one engagements, which has generated additional interest in the research results. And the project flyer has been used to generate discussion and build relationships in person at WineGB events.
These communication products have provided online visibility to our work, allowed us to communicate our research goals and preliminary finding and problem framings and receive feedback and enquiries from a range of audiences including sector actors and journalists.
The contents of these communications has also been discussed with grape growers and wine producers during one on one engagements, which has generated additional interest in the research results and supported the development of conducive relationships, to support research into use and communication of wider research project findings.
These products have also been used to recruit participants, including at a WineGB annual general meeting, and to spark discussion with these audiences.
As of March 10th 2020 the project landing page had 577 page views and the project flyer PDF downloaded 68 times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/resilient-wine/