United Kingdom - Wines
As marginal climates go, England's is nearly off the scale. Only a moderating maritime effect makes wine-growing in England possible.
Estimates of the total number of vineyards vary, because many are tiny and still at the hobby stage, but 440 are registered with the English Vineyards Association, which represents about 70 percent: relatively few of these, however rate as a significant commercial proposition.
About one third of English vineyards are planted with the white Müller-Thurgau, a variety noted in Germany more for volume than character. In England it turns out attractive, crisp, flowery wines which owe some of their distinction to the fact that yields are generally about a quarter of those achieved in Germany.
One grape variety, Seyval Blanc, has caused a particular problem because it is a hybrid. Although it produces some of the country's most stylish wines, it is outlawed by the European Community for the production of "quality wine." A little red is made, sometimes from Pinot Noir, sometimes from Germanic red varieties.
A system for the control of quality wines suddenly sprang into existence in 1991, without benefit of a pilot scheme to iron out any difficulties. Seyval Blanc is not allowed in quality wine, although it is anticipated that the regulations will be reviewed in due course.