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Ireland now officially wine country thanks to Dublin farm

David Llewellyn on tonight's Eco Eye
David Llewellyn on tonight's Eco Eye

Ireland is synonymous with Guinness and whiskey, but now Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon can be added to the list of native drinks.

Vineyards are traditionally associated with the south of France or the Napa Valley in California, but a farm in Lusk in North County Dublin has resulted in Ireland being officially classed as a wine-growing nation.

This corner of Leinster is a 21st century addition to the world’s vine growers thanks to global warming.

RTE’s Eco Eye series is set to shine the spotlight on how the temperature rise across the planet could see Ireland becoming an unlikely wine region, while the potato could fail due to drought.

Horticulturist David Llewellyn, who is well known for his apple and cider products, is Ireland’s first wine producer, from vines grown on his farm in Lusk, Co. Dublin.

He said: “As far as I know I am the only one who has wine for sale, but I have heard there had been one or two new vineyards planted recently.

“Apart from the fact that there are varieties existing now that didn’t exist a hundred years ago, I think the climate has warmed that little bit in the last half century and has made that little bit of difference already.”

In Eco Eye, presenter Dr Lara Dungan said predicted climate changes could be set to create the ideal conditions for a dramatic expansion of the wine industry in Ireland.

Our planet’s long streak of record-breaking temperatures has continued to rise, making 2016 the hottest year on record.

Mr Llewellyn said the global warming has been good for his vineyard, but it is disastrous for crops in many famous regions in southern Europe.

“It’s good for production in the more northerly regions like the U.K., Ireland and Northern Europe, but it is pretty serious in a negative way in Southern Europe, where the summers are simply too hot now.

“For me growing grapes, it is obviously a good thing, but if global warming is continuing at the rate is seems to be now, I think making wine will be the least of our worries,” he acknowledged.

While Ireland may become an unexpected wine region, potatoes could be under threat from global warming.

Dr Jennifer McElwaine, Professor of Plant Palaeobiology UCD, told Eco Eye that the national vegetable could suffer under conditions towards the end of the century.

“We will see more episodes of droughts and more episodes of flooding and certainly the potato crop is not happy in drought episodes.”

  • Eco Eye will be shown on RTE One on Tuesday at 7.00pm