Wine GB sets sights on £1bn worth of sales as further 1.7m vines planted

GREAT BRITISH BRAND

The organisation defended claims that it’s branding was too nationalistic and focused too strongly on “British wine”

Addressing criticism over the organisation’s logo and name, which was decided following a consultation with the industry, Parkinson cited the importance of using the ‘Great British’ name for the purposes of tapping into export markets, which he said is more important than any confusion that could be caused by the term “British Wine”, while also offering an umbrella term for both English and Welsh wines.

Upon the unveiling of its logo, the group’s branding was criticised for being too nationalistic, and also for emphasising British wine, which is in fact made from imported grapes or grape concentrate then made into wine in Britain, not from UK-grown grapes.

The circular logo comprises a bunch of grapes, topped with a crown-like stem, set upon a union jack flag, which is intended to highlight the growing international reputation of its wines, and is circled by the ‘Wines of Great Britain’ text. WineGB is the shortened form of the organisation’s name, and will be used in the majority of its marketing.

“This is a great confident brand,” said Parkinson, who also made the point that to the average consumer, the term ‘British wine’ “doesn’t mean anything at all”.

“The design is very prominent and striking that I think stands out and in the exports market that is going to be important part of the equation,” said Parkinson.

“I think the Britishness of the brand, particularly in the US, is a very important aspect. Choosing a brand that endorses an internationally recognised quality level is really important.”

Robinson added: “British is more important to export markets. The Department of Trade is running a British campaign. That’s not a reason for choosing the Wine GB brand, but British resonates more strongly than England. We are certainly not banging the drum for an nationalistic or jingoistic, but we are a national association.”

Branding aside, Parkinson said securing funding from the government for marketing purposes, pointing to Australia’s recent $50m grant for marketing and export activity, was high on its list of priorities, adding that it needed to be at Prowein next year “telling the world just how fantastic the quality of this country’s wine is”.

FUTURE PROOFING

Ensuring that there is the infrastructure and work force to support growth is another consideration for Wine GB, which reported that while an estimated 2,100 people are currently directly employed by the English and Welsh wine industries, that figure could grow to 24,000 by 2040.

“We are working with Plumpton and agricultural colleges with the aim of launching satellite courses with Plumpton across the wider agricultural centres around the UK,” said Parkinson, with the aim of ensuring that specialist viticultural courses are available in a greater number of locations. “We need to ensure that the skills we are offering are relevant for our needs, but will also be relevant 20 yeas from now. Should we have courses on wine tourism for example?”

The provision of seasonal workers will also be crucial, which will become even more pressing after Brexit, not only for the viticultural industry, but the wider agricultural industry.

“The industry desperately needs people to prune the vines and we don’t have domestic that skill set at the moment,” said Robinson. “The farmers are equally concerned about it because the horticultural crops rely on overseas workers more than we do in many respects. They need them more then we do.”

Wine tourism is also a focus, which Parkinson rightly says will be an increasing part of the offering of the industry that will benefit not only the wineries and growers, but the infrastructure around it – hotels, restaurants, retailers and “even petrol stations”. As part of this effort, Wine GB is proposing some kind of tax relief for producers that offer cellar door sales.

“There’s a wealth of research particularly in New Zealand that shows that the international wine tourist spends 80% more than the average tourist, which is a huge uplift,” he said. “What will that means for the facilities to have hotels and restaurants as part of the offering on the winery context is a really important part of the market. How we have looking at California and Australia and New Zealand to get a feel for what might work for us.”

Using 2015 Australian data, Wine GB estimates that revenue generated by UK wine tourism could reach £685m by 2040.

Finally, the survey notes that sparkling, unsurprisingly, wine currently accounts for 68% of wine production in the UK, with Pinot Noir the most popular grape variety, followed by Chardonnay.

However while the UK’s calling card remains its fizz, Robinson believes there is scope for still wines to make a greater impact in the future. While still wines made from the classic Champagne varieties will appear, Bacchus was highlighted as the variety with the best opportunity for becoming the UK’s flagship variety.

While its success remains to be seen, Parkinson compared its potential with that of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, boldly predicting: “Bacchus could be our equivalent”.

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