Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Continued plantings spell new growth for English vino at Wine GB

Published:  06 September, 2021

Continued plantings across England and Wales are expected to insulate the growing England and Welsh wine industry against climate issues and smaller-than-usual crop sizes.

This was the message from Simon Thorpe, CEO of Wines of Great Britain (Wine GB) ahead of tomorrow’s live tasting.

The UK focused trade body is gearing up for a post-lockdown return to an in-person tasting on Tuesday 7 Sepetmber, where Thorpe will deliver an opening address about the sales gains of the past 18 months alongside projections for future growth.

Struggles for the UK wine industry include reduced harvest sizes over the past few years. The good news, however, says Thorpe is that while production is on the lower side, hectarage continues to grow.

“The story is still one of strong growth in terms of hectarage. The sector is up to about 3,800 ha now under vine, which has more than doubled in in eight years. There has also been 70% increase in the last five years, so people are still planting. Even this year with lockdown and the pandemic, there was still another 1.4 million vines planted in 2021. Growth is very much still on the horizon,” he said.

He added that the grapes being planted are still predominantly represented by the classic sparkling varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which now account for approximately 72% of grape varieties under vine in the UK.

Production has taken a bit of a hit over the last couple of years. Things climbed down from a peak of 13 million bottles in 2018 to 10.5 million in 2019, primarily as a result of frost and smaller bunches. 2020 saw a 17% drop on 2019, the equivalent of 8.7 million bottles produced. 2021 is also expected to be low due to an influx of downy mildew in the spring and a lacklustre summer.

“There are some climatic issues,” Thorpe confirmed. “But it’s a good job that so many new vines are being planted. There’s a lot of the debate around whether we’re going to have too much wine or too little wine in future. We’ve been working on models which forecast what the next 10 years might look like. It’s incredibly hard, particularly when you’re such a small industry and things have changed so much so radically. But it looks like production will eventually reach an equilibrium.”

As one of the bigger events to launch since restrictions eased, more than 400 visitors are signed up to tomorrow’s event. Just over 40 tables will be in situ, with wine being showed from 58 producers – many of which are expected to attend.

WineGB Trade & Press tasting for 2021 takes place at the RHS Lindley Hall on Tuesday 7 September. For more information, visit Wines of Great Britain.