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Ridgeview to double production of its award winning English wine by 2020

Published:  23 March, 2015

Ridgeview, the award winning English winery, plans to double its production in the next five years as as an ambitious project of planting over 80 hectares of extra vines take effect.

It will see Ridgeview produce 500,000 bottles in 2020 compared to the 270,000 bottles it will produce this year. It is a significant step forward for the Sussex-based winery which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and started out with only 20,000 for its first vintage in 2000, 50,000 in 2005 and 120,000 in 2010.

Tamara Roberts, Ridgeview's general manager, told at last week's ProWein that the investment in extra vines will help it grow its exports from 20% of the business to 30%.

It is doing so by "scaling up volume" and working with its primary two growers in Chichester and Petworth to plant more vines. The Chichester vineyard, for example, is to add 50 hectares to its current 65 hectares and it is planting 20 more hectares of vines at Petworth with a further 16 hectares at a third grower. It will clearly take some time for wines to be made from those plantings but it shows the scale of investment taking place in English wine, said Roberts.

Exhibiting at ProWein for the last three years has helped English wine producer, Ridgeview, expand its sales in to 12 key export markets with hopes of more business from this week's show. "We are ahead of the game, but we need to keep going," she said. "We still need to get ourselves firmly established in the UK."

The producer was one of the first to commit to ProWein after "scoping out" the fair four years a go, but realised to have any impact it would need the support of other English wine producers.

The result was the seven-strong delegation, following five in the first year in 2013 and six in 2014, that showed off English wine to international buyers at ProWein last week.

She said the producer's distribution strategy is to focus on high end supermarkets, the quality on-trade, mail order and going direct online.

It is hoping to widen its exports to new markets, particularly in the United States where it has built a strong base in New York over the last three years. "We see a lot of growth coming from the US," said Roberts who will be targeting taking the brand to other key states like California, Texas and cities like Chicago.

Ridgeview is now bottling all its wines from the 2013 vintage onwards in darker glass to protect against light shock.

All the labels have been given a new "refreshing" design to put the emphasis that is a family owned wine from England on the front label. "We want to highlight our strengths," said Roberts.

As for ProWein Roberts said "people's perception of English wine has changed dramatically" over the three years they have been exhibiting. "Three years ago we were seen as a novelty. Now people want to talk to us start distribution. We have had some very good leads from the show from serious people."

By presenting as one big group English wine can be seen as a category in its own right, said Roberts. "People can also taste across all the English wines here and see the quality there is. We have to work together in export markets. If you tried to do individually you would fail."

They also need to work together to "protect the premium price point for English wine". "Making English wine is costly and hard to get economies of scale, so it would be a disaster if English wine started to compete on price," she explained.

Ridgeview has also invested £200,000 in developing new cellar door facilities at its winery with a new tasting room and dining facilities where it can host larger parties and put on more events. This, in turn, will hopefully help it build the cellar door business up from 5% of sales. This follows £2 million worth of investment in improved production facilities over a five year period.