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Bumper 2014 harvest boosts English wine production by 42%

Published:  12 May, 2015

 English Wine enjoyed a bumper harvest last year, which has helped push production by 42% to around 6.3m bottles.

The volume rise marks a significant step up in production from 2013, itself a record-breaking harvest, from 4.45m bottles. Around two thirds of the production is used to make English sparkling wine, which English Wine Producers (EWP) and United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) estimates amounts to around 4m bottles from the 2014 harvest. Production has increased by around 150% in the last five years, it said and planting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir increasing 230% over the last eight years. 

The long warm spring and summer of 2014 was highly favourable, viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton MW said: "The last two years have provided excellent growing conditions for our grapes - great flowering weather and a warm summer. The vineyards have produced some very good quality grapes and volumes of still and sparkling wines."

Speaking to last October, English producers described it as the "harvest of dream" with high yields and very high quality grapes which was widely expected to produce a very good vintage. 

The acreage under vine has doubled in the UK over the last seven and now stands at around 4,900 acres.

Julia Trustram Eve, Marketing Director of EWP said there was no doubt English wines are on an upward trajectory, boosted by greater uptake on the high street. Waitrose sells the lions share of English and Welsh wines, with a 60% market share, but Marks & Spencer recently announced it was adding ten new English wines to its range. Yesterday up-market retailer Harvey Nichols launched its first own label English sparkling wine, in collaboration with Dorking-based winemakers, Digby Fine English Wines.

"We are noticing the uptake in English wine through the entire retail sector and the on-trade. Export is another growing market. There is now a close collaboration between a number of producers already working on export initiatives. As volumes continue to grow, so will our efforts to develop markets both here and abroad," Trustram Eve said. 

"England's future is certainly a bright one: growing acreage, larger volumes to sell to meet demand, international recognition through competition successes securing our reputation for quality."

Next year the UK will host the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, which Trustram Eve said would put the industry "at the centre of the world wine stage".