UK to plant one million vines in 2017

The UK’s wine industry has announced that it will plant a record one million vines this year, making wine production ‘one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the UK.’

The new vines will cover an area of 625 acres yielding an extra two million bottles, predicted to contribute £50m to the industry.

The area under vine in the UK has been growing rapidly and, within the last ten years, has grown by 135%. The total acreage has tripled since 2000.

Commenting on the feat, viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton MW said: “2017 will see the largest number of vines ever planted in a single year in the UK, and underlines the popularity of both English sparkling and still wines with the wine-buying public. Producers have seen demand soar, both at home and abroad, and are planting for the future.”

In recognition of this growth, the industry has announced the launch of a new competition, The UK Wine Awards, the results of which will be announced on 31 May as part of English Wine Week.

The awards have received the backing of wine writer and BBC Saturday Kitchen regular Susie Barrie MW; wine writer, presenter and one-third of Three Wine Men, Oz Clarke, and sommelier and wine writer, Hamish Anderson.

Oz Clarke, expressing his enthusiasm for the project, said: “What a year to initiate our new UK wine Awards. The French finally admit they like our wines. New York decides that English bubbles are the next big cool wine ‘thing’. And we are planting a million new vines in our nation this year. We are bubbling with confidence. And we want a UK Wine Awards which reflects that confidence, to trumpet the message across the wine world that the English and the Welsh are coming and we will not be denied!”

Also taking part in the project are UK retailer Waitrose, who recently announced that it would be exporting English sparkling wine to China, boutique hotel chain Hotel du Vin and Country Life magazine.

English wine buyer at Waitrose and UK Wine Awards judge, Rebecca Hull MW commented: “Waitrose have been stalwart supporters of English and Welsh wines for many years now, and we see customer demand for them growing year upon year. These wines are world class and the Awards will certainly serve to highlight some of the gems produced on our own doorstep. We’re really proud of our support of this exciting and growing industry.”

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