Vines to Plant in Marginal Climates

This data has been compiled for the UK specifically, but may be of use to growers in other marginal climates. For commercial production of "English Wine" or "Welsh Wine" only "recommended/authorised/provisionally authorised" varieties are normally permitted. Hybrid varieties (eg Seyval, Orion, Phoenix, Regent, Rondo) are not eligible for Quality Wine. Non-authorised varieties may be grown to produce commercial "United Kingdom Table Wine".
* Denotes an Officially Recommended Variety (by the EU) for the UK
+ Denotes Authorised

White varieties

Alicante Bouschet

(Or just "Alicante", Garnacha Tintorera in Spain)
Minor grape originating from a 19th century cross using the Aramon and ancient Teinturier native vine, resulting in a hybrid varietal. This in turn was crossed with the Grenache to give the named grape.
Widely grown in France, California and Spain. In the Champagne region of France it is the main grape used to make the sweet "vin mousseux" - (sparkling wine).
Yield: 9 bunches (9lbs), 3.6m of rod.

Auxerrois Blanc

(Not Auxerrois, the French Cahors regions' name for the red grape Malbec; also not Auxerrois Gris, a Pinot Gris varietal.)
Local name for white wine grape grown in the northeast Moselle and Alsace regions of France. Used to produce mildly acidic wines that add a honied intensity to blends with the Pinot Blanc in the better vintage years.

Capable of producing fresh, creamy-rich wine that adapts well to oak and can be used well as a blending component in bottle-fermented sparkling wine.

Harvest: Early ripening (mid-September)
Soils: deep, fertile, clay, clay/loam
Yields: moderate (60-80 hl/ha)


German cross of Sylvaner, Riesling and Muller Thurgau.
Generally pleasantly scented and dry with a hint of Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.
Early ripening. More reliable cropping than Muller Thurgau (fair yields). Susceptible to powdery mildew.

Fat and grapey with rich, Muscat-like fruit when ripe. In cooler years it may exhibit herbaceous, cat's piss aromas.

Cascade (Seibel 13.053)

Origin: New York State. Low in sugar and high in acid. Fair quality wine.
Mid season. Resistant to mildew. Small bunches of deep purple berries with red juice. Very vigorous, excellent as was cover plant. Early Oct.


Minor grape grown in Switzerland, France and New Zealand. Widely grown in the cantons of the first country where it has several regional names, such as Perlan in the Mandement district. Mostly vinified to be a full, dry and fruity white wine. In France it is mostly grown in the Loire region where it is converted into a blend with Sauvignon Blanc called "Pouilly-sur-Loire" and in the Savoy region where it is treated in the Swiss manner. In New Zealand it is mainly made into popular sweet white wines. (Many clones, late October.)

Chenin Blanc

(Steen in South Africa, and Pineau de la Loire in the Loire region of France)
Often made in a variety of styles with or without some residual sugar. It is the favoured grape of the Anjou region of France.
Naturally a hard acidic grape that's slow to mature. Often made into fine sweet wines with a 10 year aging potential in bottle.


Soft and ripe with a Riesling-like peach-stone intensity that develops well in warmer years.

Faber (aka Faberrebe)

Derived from the crossing of the Weissburgunder and Muller-Thurgau with the aim of achieving frost resistance.
Used for blending in the Rheinhessen region of Germany.
High acid grape.


German cross of Wiener Gudedal and Courtillier Musque (or Chasselas and a Muscat variety).
Grown mostly in the Rheinhessen region of Germany and used mainly for sweet white wines of no particular distinction.
Medium-high yeilds. Susceptible to frost and mildew. Noble rot in good years. Hard to start.

Slight muscat flavour. Easy-going fruit, sometimes exhibits herbaceous-grapefruit bite, but can be catty in poor years.

Kerner +

German cross between Riesling and Black Hamburg (or Riesling and Schiava Grossa (Trollinger in Germany)). Buds late and is less susceptible to frost.
Produces a Riesling-like white wine, unsuitable for oak, better flavour than Rivener.


Madeleine Angevine 7972

("Mad Angy"; 7672*)
Descended from the French Madeleine d'Angevine and a German parent.
First appeared at Alzey in 1929.
Neutral flavour. Rapid loss of acid during ripening.
Early, heavy cropper, moderate/vigorous, disease resistant, prone to mildew, relatively hardy, suitable for colder areas. Late Sept. to early Oct.
Light, floral aromas and perfumes may be apricoty.

Muscat Frontignon (is also Muscat Blanc)

(Aka Muskateller in Austria and Germany, Muscat Lunel in Hungary, Muscadel in South Africa, Muscat Frontignon in France, and Moscato di Canelli in Italy. Members of the Muscat cepage family. Not Muscat of Alexandria.)
Used mainly for making semi-sweet and sweet dessert wines. May be the oldest known grape, having a documented history of growth around the Mediterranean for many centuries.
Yield: 14 bunches (14lbs), 3.6m of rod.

Muscat Of Alexandria

(Aka Muscat Gordo Blanco or Lexia in Australia and Hanepoot in South Africa).
Ancient grape species suitable for Mediterranean growing climates. Makes sweet wines that are usually judged of inferior quality compared to those of the Muscat Blanc cepage varieties. The main use in California is for producing raisins. Also widely grown in Spain, where it is called Moscatel de Alejandria, and Portugal where winemakers in the latter country use it to make "Moscatel de Setubal" sweet wine.
Yield: 10 bunches (10lbs), 3.6m of rod.

Muller-Thurgau* (Also spelt Mueller~; aka Rivaner)

German cross between Riesling and Sylvaner or between 2 clones of Riesling. Widely planted in Europe, New Zealand and some parts of the cooler Northern regions of N. America. Known as Rivaner in parts of Europe. Germany's most planted white vinifera. The most widely planted.
Produces a flowery, yet acidic white wine that bears a modest resemblance to the parent Riesling grapewine. Fragrant, soft, and round wine (may lack character). Can be fat and distinctive.
Early ripening (earlier than Rieslings). It has a delicate flavour and gives an excellent wine. Passable as dessert.
Needs good weather during pollination. Vulnerable to disease. Mid October. Highly recommended.

Ortega +

Cross of Muller Thurgau, Madeleine Angevine and Gewurztraminer (or Muller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe).
Used for white wine blending in the Rheinhessen region of Germany.
Produces a scented tasty wine with a slight flavour of mango. Fat and jammy when ripe, becoming herbaceous in cooler years with a white currant character when unripe.

Optima +

Spicy cross of Sylvaner, Riesling and Muller Thurgau.
Widely grown in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of Germany and used for blending purposes in the white wines of the region.

Pinot Blanc

Can be delicious, easy drinking.

Pinot Gris

Richer fruit per gram of acidity than either Pinot blanc or Chardonnay. Can be successfully oaked.

Pinot Noir

Elegant red of cherry and raspberry fruit when ripe. Some believe the variety's susceptibility to rot means it does not suite the UK.


German cross of Muller Thurgau, Madeleine Angevine and Calabresser Frohlich.
Light fruity character. Honey background taste. High in sugar. Neutral wine.
Medium to high yields. Easy ripening. Early Oct.


Another name for Muller Thurgau, - an abbreviation for Reisling Sylvaner.


Cross between Sylvaner and Riesling.
Extensively planted in the Rheinhessen, Rheinfalz and Franconia regions of Germany. Produces a full-bodied, aromatic white wine.
Mid-season, similar to Mullar Thurgau, susceptible to mildrew, heavy cropper, early October.

Seyval Blanc (aka Seyve Villard 5/276) *

A french-american hybrid.
Grown extensively in the colder northern temperate zones of N. America and Europe.
Neutral, crisp, fruity dry versions have sometimes been likened to Chardonnay in aroma and taste (but lighter in style). Can be catty when unripe. Capable of oak-ageing.
Mid-season, some resistance to powdery and downy mildew, most disease resistant variety grown in UK, heavy cropper, easy to grow, blends wells with Muller Thurgau, mid to end October.
Dispised by the French, and generally not deemed a respectable grape for winemaking.


Distinct guwurztraminer and muscat tones. Good quality wine.
Ripens same as Muller Thurgau, but requires a warm site to crop well.
Soft and peachy when ripe with a slight spiciness. Cat's piss aromas when unripe.

Siegerrebe +

German crossing produced at Alzey from Madeliene Angevine and Gewurztraminer.
Grown in limited amounts in Germany and used as small percentage amounts in blends.
Pleasant light floral tones, highly aromatic. Fat, tangy.
Golden brown berry of good flavour, trace of muscat and high sugar.
Very early. Low yields. Prone to wasps. Reasonable disease resistance. Medium vigour. Late Aug-early Sept.

Trebbiano (or Ugni Blanc)

(Or the Saint-Emilion grape in the Cognac region of France.)
Widely grown in Italy and Southern France.
Produces a fruity, acidic white wine, best drunk when young and chilled.
Ripens late, highly productive. High acid, low sugar, light body, neutral aromas.
Yield: 5 bunches (5lbs but large bunches), 3.6m of rod.


Possibly promising new varieties:

Phoenix and Orion

Black varieties

Cascade (Siebel 13053)

Hybrid from New York State. Crops well. Acids can be low for red wine.


Bred in 1956 as cross between Heroldrebe and Helfensteiner.
Widely popular in Germany. Creates red wines from grapes that have every important red-wine variety suitable for central Europe in their geneology. Mainly grown in the Rheinhessen and Pfalz regions, it is increasingly available as a bottled varietal with aging potential.

Leon Millot

Early french-american hybrid grape very similar to Marechal Foch.
A German grape producing intense red juice.
(The Foch has possibly French Alsace Gamay origins, and is noted for producing deeply coloured and strongly varietal wines considered by some to have a "Burgundian" character.)
Mid-season, good resistance to mildew, small bunches, blue-black berries, potential for high sugar with good colour, very vigorous, fairly quality red wine, crops well, reliable, early October.

Pinot Meunier (aka Wrotham Pinot)

Champagne variety which does not crop or ripen well in the UK.


(GM6494/5) Interspecific hybrid. New variety, not much planted yet.
Good acids and sugars.
Very early ripening and prolific. Tough skins seem not to attract wasps.

Triomphe D'Alsace

Hybrid. Pleasant and fruity. No longer fashionable. Banned in the EU. Cloying, foxy-after taste that may be hidden when blended.

Wrotham Pinot (Spatburgunder in Germany)

Light red strawberry flavoured, usually rose.


Grapes, indoors and out, The Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley Handbooks.
First Steps In Winemaking, C.J.J.Berry; Brunel University College.
The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia,Tom Stevenson
Oliver Richardson's guide to English Vineyards website