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Confusion over ‘British’ wine damaging England’s reputation

Cheap wine made from imported grape juice labelled as “British” is causing consumer confusion and damaging the reputation of English wines according to one producer.

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Silver Bay Point is one of many ‘British’ wines that may be causing consumers confusion over its origins

Aldi, Lidl and Tesco all sell low cost wines made in the UK from imported European grape juice that are legally allowed to be labelled as “British”.

A growing number of English wine producers are worried that the “disingenuous” practice is damaging the reputation of England’s high-quality homegrown wines.

Richard Balfour-Lynn
Richard Balfour-Lynn

Richard Balfour-Lynn of Hush Heath in Kent believes that consumer confusion about British wine is leading to the misconception that UK-grown grapes are low quality.

“The key to exporting our increasingly popular English wines around the world is quality control. Discounted wine being labelled as ‘British’ suggests to the consumer that their bottle of low-cost wine is grown and processed here,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“The danger going forward is that foreign buyers will not be able to distinguish between our high-quality produce and the imported stuff. If they are put off by it that hampers our efforts to build a reputation abroad,” he added.

While a wine can only be called ‘English’ if it is made from grapes grown in England, ‘British’ wine can be made from grapes grown elsewhere, so long as the juice is fermented and bottled in the UK.

Many of the grapes used for the making of ‘British’ wine come from Spain, Romania and Bulgaria. Some sell for as little as £2.49 per bottle.

“Much in the same way that retailers can get away with importing chickens, processing them and packaging them here, the product can be called British – when really it is nothing of the sort,” Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of the English Wine Producers told The Sunday Telegraph.

English producers are seeking to amend current EU regulation to make it illegal for wines to be labelled as British that aren’t made from grapes grown in the UK.

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