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New entrants to UK wine production push dramatic sector growth

Published:  26 October, 2015

The number of UK wine producers continues to rocket.

The HMRC received 65 applications from potential new producers last year, more than double the number in 2012-13.

The number of applications is up 41% on 2013-14.

There are currently 470 commercial vineyards and 135 wineries operating in England and Wales. Together they produce over 3 million bottles of wine.

Aside from the wines they produce, wineries and vineyards are increasingly important to the UK tourist trade.

Over 100 vineyards are open to the public for tours, tastings and food and drink. Visitor numbers have grown by some 65% in the last year.

Denbies recently became the first English winery to have a dessert wine listed in Waitrose.

English sparkling wine had a bumper harvest in 2014, with production up 42%.

The growth in the number of vineyards is in line with the rise of artisanal and craft food and drinks suppliers in the UK.

The number of applications for distillers licences trebled last year, rising from 20 to 65.

James Simmonds, partner at accountancy practice UHY Hacker Young, said: "As customers have increasingly realised the high quality of the wine produced in the UK, demand has soared and a greater number of producers than ever before are flocking to the market.

"There is huge demand in the UK for locally sourced products and the growing interest in the wine industry naturally follows on from the surge in popularity of craft beer over the last five years. English wine is now regarded as an aspirational product in the same vein as craft beer."

The WSTA has predicted that the volume of land covered by vineyards in the UK could double over the next seven years.

The area of land under vine has grown by an average of 11% year on year since 2005.