California Dreaming: Could Irish steppes really become home to vineyards like these?

Wine lovers round the world could be raising a glass of Irish wine in the next few years if global warming does not slow down.

That's according to Spanish wine maker Miguel Torres who says the rising Irish temperatures mean Ireland could be saying holas! to wine-making.

Torres says that “temperatures have already risen by one degree; if they increase by five, southern Europe will be full of arid steppes and we could see commercial grape production in countries as far afield as Ireland.”

There have already been reports that some enterprising wine maker has bought up a plot of land in Ballymena in County Antrim in expectation of warmer climes in 15 years.

Over the Irish sea, England's wine industry, with some 2,732 acres under cultivation, is showing signs of major growth because of the warmer climate.

However, Julia Trustram Eve from English Wine Producers says this mini wine boom may be shortlived. “Some say by 2080 it will be too hot to grow grapes in southern England,” she says.

Irish wine producer Michael O’Callaghan reckons this is all wishful thinking.

He told the Irish Times that he has not been able to make any wine since the record heat of 2006.

O’Callaghan says temperatures need to reach 19 degrees centigrade (66.2 F). "It will be quite some time before you will see the countryside covered in vineyards”.

Another wine maker David Llewellyn from Lusk, Co Dublin, says that's not so.

"It’s not a true figure. Different types of grapes have different requirements – it very much depends on the variety.”

“There are probably enough south-facing garden walls and house walls in Ireland to meet the whole country’s wine needs if they were all planted with vines.”

Neal McAlinden, of Direct Wine Shipments in Belfast, says, “I was in Dublin recently for a wine tasting and a guy took a Cabernet Merlot blend made in Wicklow out of a suitcase. I couldn’t believe it, I thought someone was taking the mickey. Normally you need the climate of Bordeaux for that kind of wine.”