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English and Welsh sparkling wine sales hit new record

Published:  23 April, 2019

Sales of English and Welsh sparkling wine rose 6% across the on and off-trade in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to WSTA data released today to coincide with St George’s Day.

The growth translates to a record four million bottles of home grown fizz bought by Brits during the year, in which UK consumers bought more English and Welsh fizz than they did sparkling wines from Australia, the US and Germany combined, said the WSTA.

Italy remains top of the pops as the UK’s number one favourite fizz, selling around 117 million bottles in 2018 driven by Brits’ love of Prosecco, followed by Champagne of which almost 24 million bottles were sold during the year.

Coming third in the UK’s favourite fizz top 10 is Spain, selling over 23 million bottles, mainly Cava, the rest of France (excluding Champagne) sold over five million bottles, with the UK coming in fifth.

Following the sweltering summer of 2018, the sales momentum is expected to continue with “even bigger” sales in the next couple of years as wine made from last year’s grapes hit supermarket shelves.

However in light of Brexit’s impact on the pound combined with inflation, the wine trade is facing a “tough trading landscape”, warned WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.

“A bit like St George, against all the odds, the UK wine trade has come out fighting and proved it can compete with the best of the best at a global level, he said.

Beale also took the opportunity to reiterate the need for the government to do more to “support this emerging British success story”.

“The Chancellor can and should start bringing down his excessively high duty rates after he unfairly singled out wine for a duty rise in his last Budget.”

Last year was a vintage year for both quality and quantity for English and Welsh wines, with a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles of still and sparkling produced. This compares to 5.9 million in 2017.

In 2018, a total of 1.6 million vines were planted over 1000 acres with vine plantings expected to exceed the two million mark in 2019, confirming the UK wine industry as one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the UK.

Sparkling wine accounts for 68% of all English and Welsh wine produced, with the success of the sector leading Champagne houses Vranken-Pommery and Taittinger to invest in vineyards in the south of England as the chalky soils and climate are very similar to those found in the Champagne region.