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English wines shine at annual tasting

Published:  10 May, 2016

At yesterday's English Wine Producers trade tasting thirty-five producers exhibited making it the largest tasting for the EWP to date.

"We have more producers exhibiting this year than we have ever had. The quality of the people visiting today has been incredible. We have had high street retailers through independent merchants and a great number of on-trade buyers as well, which is great.  People are really getting English wines now and it is really exciting," said Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director for the English Wine Producers.

Julia Trustram EveJulia Trustram Eve, English Wine Producers

Camilla Bladon, of Jenkyn Place in Hampshire, agreed the tasting is growing in popularity as English wines get more traction in different channels. "The tasting is going really well with a great selection of people. The tasting itself is getting bigger and bigger every year. English wines are nowhere near plateauing either. I think it is great that together as an industry we are pushing English wines forward."

The traction of English wines within the UK is off the back of a lot of hard work that has really started paying off in the last 24 months according to wine writer Jamie Goode.

He said: "English sparkling wines has gathered so much momentum in a short period of time. Before there were pockets of good wines that could be found in England, but it has really reached a tipping point. Now there is a critical mass of top quality wines being produced. It was led by producers like Nyetimber, Hambeldon and Gusbourne Estates.  Producers have really professionalised the industry."

Hectarage planted in the UK has doubled in the last eight years and there are now 502 commercial vineyards in the UK and 133 wineries.  The 2015 vintage was the second largest vintage on record, producing 5.06m bottles.  The largest harvest on record to date was the 2014 vintage which produced 6.3m bottles.

For Ian Kellett, founder and managing director of Hambledon Vineyard, the tasting is great way opportunity to see how far the industry has come. He said: "Our communication is getting better and that is driven by the quality of the wines collectively we are producing. We are making better wines consistently and you can see that when we are all in the same room together."

This year's tasting was the first time that Mark Harvey, managing director of wine for Chapel Down, attended the event. "In terms of the number of people and the breadth of the wine, it is much bigger than I expected. The quality of the wines continue to get better and better."