Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

New viticulture research programme opens in Kent to boost English wine industry

Published:  28 May, 2015

A trial research vineyard is being established at the East Malling Research centre in Kent which aims to boost productivity and margins within the English wine industry.

The organisation is the centre of horticultural crops and plants in the UK, which specialises in research on soft fruit and offers commercial services to the industry. EMR's head of viticulture research, Dr Julien Lecourt told the idea was to use the centre's experience with soft fruit to inform its viticulture programme.

The research is intended to be directly applicable to commercial vineyards and provide information that will help boost production and crop genetics to increase margins. It will also look at pests and diseases that affect vines.

"It is a long-term commitment and EMR is committed to have the same impact on viticulture as we do on soft fruit," he said. "The project will transfer all the knowledge we have a soft to grapes and start innovative style in order to have an impact in the industry."

Lecourt said the quality of UK wines had dramatically increased over the last ten year. "The industry is getting bigger and the quality is improving, but we need to improve winemaker margins and quality," he told

"The sector now needs world-class science to underpin the production of the finest quality, globally-recognised, unique wines and increase winemakers' margins."

"There is a huge opportunity to exploit the unique UK 'terroir', the combination of environmental and physical growing conditions, and establish bespoke UK vines for UK wines."

The 0.6ha plot is being planted with indigenous variety Bacchus, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc and will use three training systems and rootstock combination trials.

EMR's spokesman Ross Newham described the move as "probably the most significant advancement for the UK wine industry."

"The uniqueness of this initiative is the unparalleled perennial fruit crops science, 65 world-class scientists covering all aspects of crop production, that can now be applied to UK grapes," he said.

Partners of the new viticulture research programme include commercial UK vineyards, vineyard supplier Agrii, French nursery Pepinieres Guillaume and Swiss-based Pepinieres Boriolli as well as the University of Bordeaux and Institute of Grape and Wine research of Bordeaux.