UK sees 41% rise in wine producers

The UK has witnessed a 41% rise in the number of new wine producers in the last year, according to figures from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Hush Heath vineyard

Harvesting at Kent’s Hush Heath Estate, one of England’s 470 commercial vineyards

The HMRC received 65 applications from new wine producers last year, up 41% from 46 in the previous year. The figures include both British wine, made in the UK from imported grapes, and the higher quality English wine producers, although it is the latter that has driven the rise.

According to national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, the growing demand for UK produced wine has been fuelled by an increasing call for locally-sourced produce, attracting more new players to the market.

English wine producer growth

The number of applications to become new wine producers in the UK has risen by 41% in the last year and doubled over three years from 31 to 65. The figures above are based on HMRC applications. Bar chart source: UHY Hacker Young

“As customers have increasingly realised the high quality of the wine produced in the UK, demand has soared and a greater number of producers than ever before are flocking to the market,” commented James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young.

The company also pointed out that other areas of the UK’s drink sector have seen rapid growth, such as the craft beer industry, which has seen the number of new microbreweries increase by 24% in a year from 291 to 361, along with the artisan spirits segment, where the number of applications from new distilleries more than trebled in the last year, up from 20 to 65.

Commenting on these findings, Gabriel Stone, business development manager at The British Bottle Company – which exports British beer, wine and spirits – told db that it was good to see English wine catch up with other alcoholic drinks produced in the UK.

“The UK already has such a strong international reputation for its beer, cider, gin and whisky so it’s great to see the wine industry catching up fast.”

However, she also said that the high number of new players will need to consider exporting their produce, rather than relying entirely on an increasingly crowded domestic market.

“The next few years are going to be fascinating as UK wineries tackle the challenge of where and how to sell what are becoming rather serious quantities of a high-end product. For many producers, the answer will lie in building a solid export business,” she said.

Finally, she observed a positive trend in the demand for English wine beyond Britain’s borders, “We’re certainly seeing a growing interest in English wine, especially sparkling styles, from the more mature wine markets around the world.”

In England and Wales there are currently 135 wineries and 470 commercial vineyards with an average size of 4 hectares, according to the English Wine Producers. The annual production is presently 4.45 million bottles.

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