The English are always talking about the weather and up here in the north of England the subject is generally rain! As an island, the weather is mainly influenced by our proximity to the coast and unlike the larger land mass of Europe, our northerly climate is most certainly not as hot with fewer days of the ripening sunshine to bring on a grape harvest.
The Romans certainly grew grapes for wine-making but little of note was produced until the late 20th Century and now there are over 400 vineyards and over 100 wineries making our own juice. That said, it is often hybrid grape varieties that have been planted and mainly for white wine at that. Such offerings as Muller Thurgau and Richensteiner are the mainstay of the vineyards thanks to their early ripening characteristics.
Most of the vineyards are concentrated in the south-east of the country where the weather pattern is better but not only this, the soils are rich in limestone as in the Champagne region across the English Channel and for such varieties as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this makes for a good home. As the grapes struggle to ripen fully, the levels of acidity can be high but this is ideal for sparkling wine production so little wonder this is now the mainstay of English wine-making. So much so that some of the major Champagne houses have invested in the south-east of England. There are no economies of scale here so prices tend to be high but the present results are very pleasing and worthy of note.