Investigating England’s Wine Industry


France, Italy and Australia – are all known for their fine wines, but you might not have been aware that England has its own flourishing winemaking industry with a new study finding that it is now worth over £130 million.  Read on, as specialist wine insurance providers Lycetts delve a little more into England’s wine market.

2016 growth
Business finance supermarket Funding Options have analysed that English independent wine producers upped their turnover to £131.9 million in 2015/16 – a 16 per cent rise on the £113.8 million turnover which was recorded in 2014/15.  This was also a large jump from the £55.7 million recorded in 2010/11.

Similarly, in another record for the industry, 64% of new wine producers gained a wine production licence in 2016, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs.

Conrad Ford, from Funding Options, has stated: “English wine is going from strength to strength.”  Adding, “The English wine industry is not only gaining traction amongst domestic consumers, but is now being ranked with wines from traditional white wine-producing countries such as France and Germany.

“Wine growers need to reduce restrictions on production and capacity to ensure consistent, sustainable growth in the long-term. The fall in the value of sterling serves to showcase exactly how producers need to be able to increase capacity to react quickly to changing market conditions.”

English wine accolades
Not only is England’s wine industry on the up, but it’s also award-winning.  In May 2017, a Norfolk-based wine – Winbirri Vineyards’ Bacchus 2015 – picked up the ‘Platinum Best in Show’ prize at the Decanter World Wine Awards, beating off competition from over 17,200 other entries.

“It comes as no surprise to us that an English Bacchus wine has won a major international award,” said the CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale.  “Up until now, English Sparkling Wine has been grabbing most of the headlines for its outstanding quality. It was only a matter of time before an English still wine showed the world it can also compete with the best.”

Back at the 2010 International Wine Challenge – the Camel Valley winery in Cornwall and West Sussex’s Nyetimber were recognised for their products; Camel valley for its 2008 Pinot Noir Rose Brut and Nyetimber with its 2001 Blanc de Blancs.

Meanwhile, at the inaugural Independent English Wine Awards, Good Life Farm Shop picked up Silver for its 2013 Blanc de Noirs wine, while East Sussex-based Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard’s 2015 Regent Rose notched the only ‘Top Gold’ medal at the 2016 International Organic Wine Awards.

The size of the English wine industry
England has a variety of vineyards and wineries, with 13 wine-producing regions in Mercia, seven in East Anglia, seven more in the South West, six in the South East, five in the Thames & Chilterns area and four in Wessex.

Statistics from English Wine Producers have also shown the industry is thriving – as of 2016 there were 503 commercial vineyards and 133 wineries throughout England and Wales. Incredibly, in 2015, these facilities — which amass a total hectarage of over 2,000 hectares under vine —produced an estimated 5.06 million bottles of wine.

“If you compare us as a wine-producing nation to most other regions in the world, we’re miniscule,” explained English Wine Producers’ Julia Trustram Eve.  “But if you look at our rate of growth, we’ve more than doubled our hectarage in the last 10 years.”

The industry produces lots of different types of wine too – for example, sparkling wine makes up 66 per cent; 24 per cent is still white wine; with red, or rosé, wine, making up 10 percent.  Dissecting the figures for the top ten grape varieties planted, also proves interesting:

  1. Chardonnay, which made up 23.06 per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 353.37 hectares.
  2. Pinot Noir, which made up 22.01 per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 323.14 hectares.
  3. Bacchus, which made up 8.39 per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 128.52 hectares.
  4. Seyval, which made up 5.76 per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 88.31 hectares.
  5. Pinot Meunier, which made up five per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 76.65 hectares.
  6. Reichensteiner, which made up 4.72 per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 72.35 hectares.
  7. Rondo, which made up 3.15 per cent of production; a total area in commercial production of 48.24 hectares.
  8. Muller Thurgau, which made up three per cent of production across a total area in commercial production of 45.94 hectares.
  9. Madeleine Angevine, which made up 2.57 per cent of production across a total area in commercial production of 39.34 hectares.
  10. Ortega, which made up 2.32 per cent of production across a total area in commercial production of 35.48 hectares.

It is also reported by the English Wine Producers that 2017 will see the largest number of vines planted across England and Wales.

Changes
With the United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) and English Wine Producers (EWP) due to be merged into one single-industry representative body i.e. UK Wine Producers (UKWP) – this organisation will be tasked with promoting, representing and supporting every UK wine producer and vineyard.

“We can now speak with a single voice, and can consult with a single membership, making it clearer to Government what the industry thinks,” said Simon Robinson, owner of Hattingley Valley, who has been named as chair of the UKWP.

“The big issue now for us is Brexit. We want assurances that there will be no constraints on planting. In large parts of Europe, you can’t plant a new vineyard unless you take one out. We aren’t scouting for government support for production but would like support for sales and marketing, especially overseas, as other wine-producing countries do.”

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