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Prowein 2016: "English sparkling wine ready to take on Champagne" says Hambledon's Ian Kellett

Published:  15 March, 2016

English sparkling wine producers are on bullish form with a strong presence at ProWein reflecting a confidence in an industry that is looking to grow its production and exports significantly over the next couple of decades.

"There are now several estates, including Nyetimber, Ridge View, Chapel Down, Rathfinny Estate and ourselves all planning to be million bottle a year brands, and all looking to grow exports," said Ian Hallett of Hambledon Vineyards. "Over the next 25 years we are planning to build a brand as big as Pol Roger and English sparkling wine could eventually grow to 30 million bottles a year."

"There is the potential for up to 5,000 ha of vineyards to be planted and with the quality to challenge Champagne this could be a significant export for the UK."

Hambledon, which like many English sparkling producers has positioned its wines at a price to challenge Champagne, is at the forefront of flying the premium flag for the UK, with Kellett confident that quality can only improve as new vineyards mature and English sparkling producers increasingly hone the quality of their wines.

Kellett's bold predictions resonate with comments from Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director for marketing body English Wine Producers (EWP), who confirmed that DEFRA is keen to support English sparkling wine exports following a recent round-table discussion as part of a government drive to boost British food and drinks exports.

"There is a collective push to export and DEFRA is looking to offer support for this, with a projection that there could be a tenfold increase in exports of English wines by 2020, with a potential 25% of the growing production exported, this driven by the big estates," said Trustram Eve.

"This is from a low base, but we are seeing a very rapid expansion and the remarkable growth in the last five years has made it clear what we can achieve."

Key markets identified include territories such as the US, Japan and Hong Kong, with Scandinavia and Germany also showing growing interest in English sparkling wines.