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English wine exports double

Published:  08 September, 2020

Exports of English wine more than doubled in 2019 while sales overall rocketed 70%, according to the latest data from Wine GB released today.

The number of bottles exported grew from 256,000 in 2018 to 550,000 last year, with exports also representing a growing proportion of sales – up from 8% to 10%.

In total, 5.5 million bottles of English wine were sold in 2019, compared to 3.2 million the year before.

English wine is currently available in 40 markets worldwide, with the US the largest importer. Sales to Japan, where the Department of International Trade (DIT) has been active on behalf of UK wineries, have doubled and now account for 6% of exports.

Wine GB Chairman Simon Robinson said: “The premium quality position held by English and Welsh wines is continuing to drive export growth, a key part of the industry’s overall strategy.

“The support provided by DIT and other government departments to our winemakers is in turn an important part of the drive to increase exports to Japan and we look forward to increasing our trade with that key market.”

Kent-based Gusbourne Estate has agreed a partnership with Japan Airways which will see its sparkling wine sold in the airline’s first-class lounges.

Duncan Brown, head of export and travel retail at Gusbourne Estate, said: “With Japan being the world’s third-largest Champagne export market, it provides natural potential for our English sparkling wines.

“The DIT’s recent support in Japan has been very welcome and hopefully this engagement will continue to accelerate in the coming years.”

Japan is now one of Gusbourne’s top three international markets, alongside the US and Norway.

Another Kent winery, the Balfour Hush Heath Estate, has recently secured distribution in Japan with the help of the DIT – to add to its existing markets in the US, Norway, Finland, Germany, Spain, Canada and Hong Kong.

Adam Williams, Balfour Hush Heath’s sales director, said: “Our experience working with DIT in Japan was fantastic. They organised several meetings for us in Japan which allowed us to find a superb distributor for our wines.

“Seeing our wines in so many different countries is extremely exciting and although exporting currently represents a small part of our overall sales, they are growing significantly every year as the awareness and interest in English wines continues to grow.”

Graham Stuart, minister for exports at the DIT, said: “This is an exciting time for the English wine industry, as exports and e-commerce grow strongly, and higher production helps the sector recover from coronavirus.

“A self-confident English wine industry will be in pole position to take advantage of a future trade deal with Japan and capitalise on other agreements we will sign in the Asia-Pacific region, and across the world.”

WineGB recently announced the first 12 British wineries to achieve sustainable certification.