English wine producer in Kent predicts quality crop thanks to drought conditions

The recent hot and dry conditions could lead to better quality wine.

An English winemaker in Kent is predicting a higher quality crop due to the recent heatwave.

Grape yield is lower due to the wet summer last year, but the recent high temperatures means the quality could be significantly higher.

Fergus Elias, head winemaker at Balfour Winery, in Tonbridge, is confident the difference will be noticeable.

Fergus said: "It's going to be an exciting year as 60% of your harvest is set the year before.

Pinot Meunier grapes on a vine ready to be harvested for Nyetimber Wines on the Nutbourne vineyard in West Sussex. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images

"Last year wasn't particularly good as it was quite wet and cold.

"As a result, the yield this year is actually quite small, but this weather is making sure that the quality of it is going to be through the roof."

Hot, dry and arid conditions, such as those in southern France or Italy can lead to a better quality wine.

Despite the positive impact on his business, Fergus remains concerned about climate change.

The hot weather has left many fields parched. Credit: PA

Parts of the South West, parts of southern and central England, and the East of England are officially in a drought, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

The drought was officially declared on Friday, August 12, across wide swathes of England after the driest first half of the year since 1976.

The decision was made by the National Drought Group (NDG) – comprised of civil servants, the Environment Agency (EA), water companies and other groups including the National Farmers’ Union – following a meeting on Friday morning.

England could see a drought last into next year following the driest summer for 50 years, a senior figure at the EA has warned.

The announcement could lead to more measures such as hosepipe bans, however, the EA has reassured the public that essential water supplies are safe.

Hosepipe bans are in place across much of the south of England. Credit: PA

Thames Water announced on Wednesday that a hosepipe ban for its 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley will start next week.

From 24 August, Thames Water customers should not use hosepipes for cleaning cars, watering gardens or allotments, filling paddling pools and swimming pools, or for cleaning windows.

A hosepipe ban covering parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has already been imposed by Southern Water.

South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex are also under a hosepipe ban.