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English wine sales to hit £100m in 2015

 Sales of English and Welsh wines are predicted to hit £100 million in 2015 with the reputation of “brand England” continuing to gain strength oversees, according to the CEO of English winery Chapel Down.

Ridgeview vineyard in Sussex

Sparkling wine now makes up 66% of total wine production in the UK and is competing on the world stage shipping to more than 13 countries, while skyrocketing sales have prompted acres of new vines to be planted across England and Wales. The UK’s total acres of vineyards now stands at more than 4,500, up from 1,879 in 2004, across 470 vineyards prominently located in the south east which benefits from the same chalky soils used to produce Champagne.

Ridgeview wines based on the South Downs in Sussex reported its best year yet for overseas sales of its sparkling wine in 2014. Its exports now account for 15% of sales, up from just 2% in 2010 and aims to double the size of its production from 250,000 to 500,000 bottles in the next five years.

Mardi Roberts, sales and marketing manager of Ridgeview, said: “We’re seeing exports go from strength to strength and it is our ambition to grow this to 30% over the next five years as we double our current productions. We are selling our product to twelve countries which would have been unheard of in the English wine industry 20 years ago. Exporting is the best step to increase sales and most importantly, raising the profile of Ridgeview and English sparkling wine in general”.

Kent-based winery Chapel Down recently announced plans to double its production with the help of a £6 million investment, much of which was sourced through a recent crowd funding initiative, to expand its winery with a new distribution centre, improvements to visitor facilities and a new brewery.

Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down, said: “’Brand England’ and its food and drink reputation is getting stronger. And with our wines winning international medals and gaining recognition with leading wine critics, and our production growing rapidly, we are now in a great position to grow our exports.

“At Chapel Down, we have stepped up our International focus – we are exporting to a number of countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, Finland and Belgium, our PR activity is no longer limited to the UK, we exhibit at trade fairs in Europe and Asia, and we invite international journalists to the winery throughout the year.”

Statistics from the English Wine Producers show that at the current rate of growth in volume, sales of English and Welsh wine could grow to nearly £100m in 2015.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “There has never been a more exciting time for the English and Welsh sparkling wine industry and I look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength, taking its rightful place alongside Champagne. In the last 16 years English sparkling wines have won 14 international sparkling wine trophies – no other country has achieved this. This year is also predicted to be a vintage year for English and Welsh sparkling wine, helping grow the industry further.”

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