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English wine going global

Published:  17 August, 2016

English wine has come fourth in a consumer poll for producing the best quality wine in the eyes of the public.

Our Olympic atletes aren't the only great British exports, as feedback from the industry and a recent consumer poll attests.

In a survey conducted by The Grocer Magazine, English wines came fourth after those from France, Italy and Australia in terms of quality image and perception.

11% of all respondents said that English wines were the best in the world and the number almost doubled among 25-34 year olds, showing how English wines are being embraced by millennials.

The figure is even higher among those living in London.

"Despite being a minnow compared with traditional wine-growing regions, English wine growers have captured the hearts of many British wine fans," said The Grocer's Amy North.

"More than 10% of the consumers we polled say home-grown wine is the best in the world, beating Spain, South Africa and even New Zealand."

The popularity of English wines is echoed in the rise in sales on the high street, with Marks & Spencer  and Waitrose both reporting a peak in trading.

Elizabeth Kelly, wine buyer for M&S revealed that sales of its English wines rose by as much as 74% in the second quarter of the year.

The chain has recently grown its range to 37 English and Welsh wines from across the UK.

English fizz was the fastest growing sparkling wine category at Waitrose in the past year.

Becky Hull MW, English and Welsh wine buyer for Waitrose, added that sales of English sparkling wines sales have increased by 49% and still wines are up 7.5% on last year* across a range which now includes 107 English and Welsh Wines.

Earlier in the year, Lidl unveiled three English wines under their Wine Cellar range.

Booths have now joined these retailers in expanding their range across their stores, adding to their current listings with wines from another four sparkling wine producers.

Booths wine buyer, Victoria Di Muccio, said: "This is an incredibly exciting time for English wine and I've been struck by the vast improvement in quality over recent years. There has been a real increase in appetite for English wine among our customers and we now offer a fantastic selection to explore."

Independents have also embraced an increasing range of English wines.

Ewan Murray, PR manager at The Wine Society, is a big supporter of English wines.

"The constantly improving quality of English wines is heartening to see. Last year we launched our very first private label English sparkling wine, a clear sign to our members that the category has come of age," he said.

The trend continues in the on-trade, with more and more outlets adding English wines to their lists.

One notable recent example is The Ritz London which is now listing English wines for the first time in its history.

Head Sommelier, Giovanni Ferlito said: "I believe these wines beautifully complement the list and it's exciting to now offer our guests an English sparkling wine option as an alternative to Champagne."

Wine List Consultant and Sommelier Wine Awards judge Jade Koch, notes the change in perception among the on-trade.

"You used to find yourself having to explain why you had an English wine on the list, now you're more likely to need to explain why you don't," she said.

Koch has listed English wines at Padella and Trullo restaurants - the only non-Italian wines to be included.

English wines sales are also going global, with England currently exporting to 15 countries worldwide.

The largest shipment of English wines is heading for USA later this month.

Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of English Wine Producers, said: "The ever-growing ready availability of English wines, coupled with consistently fantastic results in competitions is encouraging wine consumers to turn to English wines.

"By the same token, those consumers are motivating the demand for more English wines to which retailers and restaurants are responding. English wines are now recognised for the great wines that they are."