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Retailers and UK vineyards celebrate English Wine Week

Published:  28 May, 2015

English Wine Week kicked off this week on the bank holiday as vineyards, high street retailers, and independent merchants opened up to promote the burgeoning English wine industry.

English Wine Week kicked off this week on the bank holiday as vineyards, high street retailers, and independent merchants kicked off events and in-store tastings to promote the burgeoning English wine industry.

In the run up to the week, English Wine Producers collaborated with Waitrose and English Country Cottages to launch a new map of the vineyards of England and Wales, listing more 169 vineyards that are now open to visitors.

Vineyards open to the public this week include Nyetimber, Gifford Hall, Lovell's Vineyards, Bluebird Vineyard Estates, The Mount Vineyard.

Waitrose is also operating tastings of English Wines at a number of its stores, with Laithwaites, Wine Rack and Bargain Booze are running promotions on English wines.

Many independents are also running in store tastings and events. Yannick Loue, owner of independent retailer Le Vignoble in Plymouth told that it was essential that local business - vineyards and wine retailers - support each other. "We are very lucky as we are surrounded by some top winemakers and vineyards such as Cornwall's Camel Valley and Devon's Sharpham. We work very much hand in hand with the winemakers and we can tell them what our customers feel about their wines from their experiences in the wine lounge. It is perfect market research for us and for them," he said.

He said there was increasing customer interest in English Wine and sales has steadily increased. "We now have to work on allocation to make sure we have enough supply - in a year we sold just short of a 1000 bottles and this is not bad for a small shop in Plymouth," he said.

"Every time we have a sparkling or still English wine available on the Enomatic it flies off the shelf. People are intrigued at first and then once they've tried it they often buy lots all at once."

The retailer is hosting an English winemaking event on Thursday to celebrate English Wine Week that will feature experts from local English vineyards Sharpham, Knightor and Camel Valley, East Sussex-based producer Nyetimber and Mark Hellyar from Chateau Civrac.

The promotion is led by the English Wine Producers, which is funded by independent member winemakers.

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. Earlier this year, EWP and the  United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) released figures for the 2014 harvest, showing UK fizz had enjoyed a bumper harvest last year  which pushed production by 42% to around 6.3m bottles.