25th February, 2016 by Arabella Mileham
The UKVA has named a Derbyshire winegrower as its first chief executive as it seeks to develop itself into a more efficient central organization.
Barry Lewis, who runs the Amber Valley Wines vineyard and online business The English Wine Shop, will step into the top job at the English wine trade body on Monday 29 February, initially on a part-time basis. He will be responsible for developing the organization, working with the new management committee and UKVA Council to deliver better services to English wine producers, including technical and legislative support and services to boost quality.
In December, the UKVA announced it was reorganizing its operations in order to “respond to the needs of the fast and ever-expanding UK wine industry”.
UKVA chairman Sam Lindo said Lewis’s appointment marked a new chapter for the organization and his background in local politics – he is currently leader of Derbyshire’s County Council’s opposition and works part-time for an East Midlands MEP – is likely to stand him in good stead for the UKVA‘s role in political lobbying.
“The UK wine industry has grown exponentially in recent decades and we need to continually respond to the ever growing needs of its members,” he said.
“Key to the success of our industry and its future is producing quality grapes, working hand in hand to promote and advise the industry. That is where the UKVA can have a real impact as the go-to organisation representing growers and lobbying to ensure that there are effective schemes in place to promote growth, and that there aren’t too many regulatory barriers in the way.”
Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of the English wine industry’s marketing arm, EWP, said Lewis’s input would help to shape the UKVA as it moved forward.
“We look forward to working with him. EWP members are UKVA members and therefore welcome a move to improve the support and services that the growers and producers so vitally need,” she said.
UK wine production is expected to double over the next seven years, having grown on average 11 % a year over the last 10 years. Currently the UK industry produces an average of 3.15million bottles a year, with sales of English sparkling wine rising and producers increasingly investing to boost production. Last year Waitrose reported sales up 188%, while Lidl also started stocking English wine for the first time recently.