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English vine plantings to rise by up to 70% this year

Published:  27 April, 2018

Sales of English wine jumped by almost a third (31%) between 2015 and last year, according to a new survey of the country’s winemakers.

Production will soar again this year, with the estimated 1 million vines planted across 6,200 acres in 2017 expected to rise by up to 70%.

The Wine Intelligence survey of 168 English producers for WineGB, which was revealed at the combined trade body’s first tasting yesterday in London, put last year’s production at 5.9 million bottles.

Sixty eight per cent of these were sparkling, the survey found. Champagne varietals Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are the most popular grapes, accounting for 71% of all vines. Pinot Noir leads in terms of acreage. Chardonnay yields the highest tonnage.

“This is significant growth in an industry that has seen a considerable period of expansion over the last two decades,” said WineGB chairman Simon Robinson.

“The arrival of two major Champagne houses – Tattinger in Kent and Pommery in Hampshire – sets the tone for further expansion as new entrants from abroad are likely to enter the market in the coming decade,” he added.

WineGB also made bold estimates for the future growth of the English wine sector, claiming that production could grow to 40 million bottles with a retail value of £1 billion a year by 2040. The sector’s estimated 2,100 strong work force could grow to 30,000 over that time.

These estimates were based on the growth of the Oregon wine industry, which was of a similar size to England’s back in 1992. As in England, production in Oregon is controlled by a large number of smaller players, predominantly growing sparkling varietals to produce wines prized for their quality.

“We’ve carefully analysed how other New World regions have evolved and used direct comparisons with their growth to provide a framework of how the Great British success story might expand by 2040,” said Robinson.

“The figures we present are not set in stone, but provide… a vision of an exciting and vibrant industry that has enormous potential to become an internationally acclaimed wine growing country of the highest quality.”