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Saturday 30 August 2014

Scotland warms to vineyards as climate heats up

Chris Green

Published 28/03/2014 | 02:30

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Scotland's first wine grapes are set to be harvested
Scotland's first wine grapes are set to be harvested

ASKED to name the wine most associated with Scotland, a cynic might say Buckfast. Not for much longer, however; in September, as Scots prepare to vote in the independence referendum, the country's first wine grapes will be harvested.

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The Scottish vineyard is in Upper Largo on the south coast of Fife, just across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh.

The vines were planted by Christopher Trotter, a chef and hotelier from Aberdeen. He was acting on the advice of one of his farming friends, who had confidently predicted that owing to climate change Fife would "have the climate of the Loire Valley" within 20 years.

Mr Trotter planted 100 vines three years ago. Their roots are now fully developed and, with the right amount of sunshine, the grapes should be ready for harvesting in September.

SUNSHINE

"We have a south-facing, sloped bit of land which overlooks the Firth; the sunshine is fantastic, and St Andrews, which is 15 minutes' from us, has some of the highest sunshine [levels] in the UK, never mind Scotland," Mr Trotter said. "So with all those things put together, I just thought: 'Well, it's worth a go'."

The situation of the vineyard is crucial: no hills to block out the precious sunlight, good drainage to cope with the inevitable rain and little haar – the sea-fog common on Scotland's eastern coast. But Mr Trotter's main advantage has been a rapidly warming climate: last July, temperatures averaged 21.4C in Fife, the second highest on record.

"It's a fact that the Champagne growers are nervous that it's getting too hot in Champagne," he said.

Mr Trotter is growing three varieties: Solaris, Siegerrebe and Rondo. All were chosen for their early ripening properties.

They can be harvested before Scotland's October wind and frosts begin to bite.

Of the three, the Solaris variety from Germany has performed best and, Mr Trotter hopes, will provide a medium-dry white wine. (© Independent News Service)

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