UK wine producers tap into tourism trend as cellar door sales spike
Direct-to-consumer sales of English wine have skyrocketed in recent years, now representing 57% of all sales. And the spike is leading to an increase in wine tourism across the UK, with producers tapping into the trend.
WineGB’s annual survey points to an overall increase of 265% in the direct-to-consumer channel in the past 2 years, representing 57% of all sales in 2021. Cellar door sales have stimulated much of this growth, increasing + 219% between 2019 and 2021.
The growing importance of cellar door looks set to continue, with a recent VisitBritain survey suggesting 42% of inbound tourists would enjoy a visit to a winery.
UK producers are tapping into the wine tourism trend with the development of new visitor centres and on-site restaurants.
Ridgeview Wine Estate in Ditchling, East Sussex has opened an al-fresco year-round restaurant called The Rows & Vine, overlooking the Chardonnay vineyards on site.
Tamara Roberts, Ridgeview’s second-generation CEO noted that Ridgeview intends to “champion locally grown seasonal Sussex food” with the new restaurant, paired with the producer’s range of sparkling wines.
With vines dormant during the winter, the opening of restaurants and on-trade venues within wineries extends revenue opportunities in the tourism channel year round.
Roberts added: “Tourism is a really exciting development for English wine. With demand at an all-time high, our new on-site hospitality venue is a destination that can welcome visitors and guests throughout the year.”
And Ridgeview is not alone in its investment into wine tourism.
Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire is set to open a new visitor centre in 2023, complete with the appointment of chef Nick Edgar, ex-head chef at the one Michelin starred restaurant of the Samling Hotel in Cumbria.
Ian Kellett, Hambledon’s owner, called Edgar’s appointment “a statement of intent about the standards we are setting ourselves”.
He added: “Our hospitality offering and our wine brand must go hand in hand on the quality of the consumer experience.”
This year WineGB is completing a comprehensive strategy to support the needs of producers and wine tourism clusters. The organisation is also working with VisitBritain to develop further opportunities for this sector of the industry.