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Funding for project to define the character of English sparkling wine

Published:  07 July, 2015

A newly-created English Wine & Research Development Group has secured funding from the Vintners' Company for a research project to define the specific character of English sparkling wine.

It is the first of a series of EWRD research and development projects aimed at providing solutions to the challenges of the UK wine industry.

Chris Foss, EWRD chairman and head of the wine department at Plumpton College in East Sussex, said: "We need to clearly define English sparkling wine from a technical, sensorial and marketing perspective.

"The UK wine industry is now big enough on a generic level for this to happen. For example, how can we distinguish English sparkling wine from Champagne? This study could lead to not just a definition of what English sparkling wine is, but initiatives to produce even more distinctive and high quality products."

A survey of producers, carried out last month by the UK Vineyards Association, put characterising English sparkling wine as one of the top 10 priorities.

The results of the survey also showed low yields and quality production at vineyards, the use of alternative pesticides and spray regimes, and botrytis spray timing as chief industry concerns.

Foss said: "Low and irregular yields are a major issue in the UK. We need to develop a strategy for this. We need to find out why there are places with big yields and many with low yields. Are producers growing the wrong clones and rootstocks?"

Formed in April, the EWRD is a multi-disciplinary group comprised of English vineyards, universities and consultancy companies. Members include Gusbourne Vineyards, Nyetimber, Ridgeview Wine Estate, Chapel Down and Wine Intelligence.