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Nusrat Ghani, MP, calls for more support for UK vineyards

Published:  21 June, 2022

Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Wine and Spirits, wants to see the government do more to help English and Welsh winemakers.

Ghani has 14 vineyards in her constituency and has long been an avid champion of the English wine sector which has seen a 70% increase in land planted with vines in the last five years alone.

Whilst promoting local vineyards during English Wine Week, Ghani said: “I am enormously proud that Wealden is the home of some of the very best vineyards in the UK, and I will always champion our local winemakers, who work incredibly hard all year round to produce their excellent, award-winning products. It’s a crucial time for the wine and spirit industry, and I am keen to see the government offer more support to these fantastic British businesses. Extending the small producers’ relief to vineyards as part of the alcohol duty review would allow the industry to invest, innovate and grow.

“The industry, which supports thousands of UK jobs, is critical to helping rural communities achieve the government’s pledge to level up the ‘left behind’ areas in the UK.”

This year the focus of English Wine Week, which is taking place between 18-26 June, is to inspire more people to get to know their local vineyards and buy direct from the cellar door.

UK vineyards are not afforded the benefit of cellar door relief granted to the British beer industry. Furthermore, under current proposals to review the alcohol duty system, vineyards are also not included in the Small Producers Relief.

Beer and cider will continue to be taxed at significantly lower rates than wine and spirits, and the proposed Small Producers Relief scheme will only apply to products under 8.5% abv. This threshold means vineyards and distillers are barred from accessing the system and its benefits, leaving wine and spirit SMEs disadvantaged and dismayed.

On top of this, proposed changes will see price rises in 80% of all still wine, 95% of red wine and 100% of fortified wines.

A considerable amount of money has been invested in turning UK vineyards into popular tourism spots, with many vineyards now home to tours, tastings, restaurants and accommodation.

With around 800 vineyards across the country, there are plenty of places to explore. UK winemakers now boast a trophy cabinet full of awards and are becomming globally renowned for the quality of their products.   

Cellar door or Small Producers Relief would go a long way in supporting these burgeoning businesses, and encouraging tourists would significantly boost rural communities.   

CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said: “The Chancellor’s current proposals are particularly damaging for SMEs. Following the massive success of English sparkling wine, we have begun to see an exciting growth in great quality English still wines. However, if the government’s proposals for wine tax go ahead, this will stifle the development of the English wine sector and be extremely prohibitive for our talented English winemakers. We very much welcome the reduction in sparkling wine tax, but not the proposed effect on the increase in still wine.

“We cannot understand why vineyards have been excluded from the Small Producers Relief scheme. For a small producer, the most effective way of getting up and running is through cellar door sales, an area where the government needs to offer more support.”