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Major English wine producers back WSTA's call for a freeze on wine duty

Published:  23 October, 2017

Major English and Welsh wine producers have joined forces with the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) to lobby the Chancellor for a cut to wine duty in the November Budget.

In a letter, signed by 11 of the WSTA English wine members including Bolney and Rathfinny wine estates, Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged to scrap planned tax rises and support the home grown English and Welsh wine industry.

The “frustrated” wine producers said the letter, forwarded to both the Chancellor and to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, had been compiled to highlight the industry’s concerns over the Government’s "lack of support", with the alliance saying the “significant tax burden” was restricting growth and was damaging to rural communities.

The industry wanted to understand why the Chancellor insisted on continuing to tax so heavily “this great British product”, said Sam Linter, managing director & head winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate.

“Our wines are competing with some of the best all over the world, and it is disappointing that we are being taxed so heavily at home  - we are fully behind the WSTA’s call for the Chancellor to freeze wine duty and help the English wine industry continue to grow,” he said

With two thirds of wine produced in England sparkling, it seemed illogical that the duty on home grown bubbles was 28% higher than still wine, with sparkling the most harshly treated of all alcohol categories," added Mark Driver, founder of Rathfinny Wine Estate 

“We would like to see the government support our growing domestic sparkling wine industry by harmonising the rate of duty between still and sparkling wine,” he said.

In March the Chancellor increased wine duty by 3.9%, which added 8p to a bottle of still wine and 10p to sparkling.

In the forthcoming Budget (22 November), the Chancellor plans to increase wine duty again, just 8 months after the last one, by 3.4% adding another 7p to still and 9p on sparkling.

Urging the chancellor to support the industry and freeze duty, Miles Beale, WStA chief executive, said: “The UK has the potential to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand’s trail blazing wine success story, yet the industry is being held back by the staggering amount of duty it has to pay - by adding to its already high tax bill this year, the Chancellor will hurt the industry's ability to grow, invest export and create jobs.”

English sparkling wine has been gaining international recognition over the past few years, leading to a trophy cabinet bursting with awards and attracting Champagne houses, such as Taittinger and Pommery, to invest in English vineyards.

There are over 500 Vineyards in England and Wales and around 150 wineries producing 5 million bottles of wine a year.

An English wine producer selling 250,000 Bottles of sparkling wine in the UK this year will face a duty bill of close to £692,500 (WStA), with the rise in March having added £26,000 to this bill and the Government’s planned rise set to add a further £24,000.