English wine hails bumper year

Figures for the 2014 harvest released today have revealed a record-breaking 47,433 hectolitres, or 6.3 million bottles, of English wine have been produced – up 42% on 2013.

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The UK vineyard area has doubled in seven years (Photo: db)

Although there is as yet no breakdown in terms of varieties and styles produced, English Wine Producers (EWP) and United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) estimate that at least two-thirds of production is sparkling wine, suggesting around 4m bottles of bubbly have been made this year.

Praising the figures, Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of EWP, said: “Over the last years we seem to be continually breaking our own records, and the 2014 figures surpass everything. There’s no doubt about it – English wines really are on an upward trajectory.”

Thanking the weather during the latest harvest for its role in the production boom, viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton MW said, “The last two years have provided excellent growing conditions for our grapes – great flowering weather and a warm summer.”

The UK vineyard area has doubled in seven years and now stands at in excess of 2000 hectares, the majority of which is mostly planted for the production of sparkling wine.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are now the most popular varieties, with plantings of these two alone increasing by over 230% in the last eight years.

Production of sparkling wines has increased by nearly 150% in the last five years and more volumes are now coming on to the market, from established producers to new English wine brands, according to EWP.

Signs are similarly impressive in terms of the retail performance of English wines. Supermarket Marks & Spencer has just added significantly to its range of wines, introducing vineyards from across the UK.

Likewise, Waitrose continues to increase its share of the English & Welsh wine market, now listing over 100 English and Welsh wines and recently reporting a 177% increase in sales of English wines over the same period a year ago. Own-label English wines now also feature on several retailers’ lists.

The English wine industry is hoping to position itself as one of the world’s leading cool climate producers in order to set it apart from other winemaking countries.

Highlighting this, Trustram Eve said, “Next year the UK is hosting the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, and It couldn’t be at a better time – that will certainly put our industry at the centre of the world wine stage.”

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