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WineGB looks back on ‘miracle’ harvest

Published:  21 December, 2023

WineGB is celebrating what it believes will be Great Britain’s largest-ever grape harvest as freshly collected data reveals 2023 is set to produce a record-breaking estimated 20 million bottles – twice the size of Britain’s previous record year in 2018.

According to the body’s end-of-year report, 2023 Harvest Report – The Big One, a combination of weather and plantings led to the best yields ever for a UK harvest in 2023, with the harvest 50% larger than Britain’s previous record year five years ago.

Other key statistics show just how large the harvest was. The top 25% of vineyards recorded an average of 15.60 tonnes per ha, while the top four grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier and Bacchus performed exceptionally well, with the average of all vineyards almost reaching 10 tonnes per ha.

Yields have also risen as more vines are planted. In the last five years, hectarage has grown by nearly 75% and the area in production today is over 1,000ha higher than in 2018.

“2023 will be a vintage to remember,” Stephen Skelton MW said. “The excellent yields are attributed to not only the near perfect weather for grapes at key times of the growing season but also comes on the back of more hectares than ever before coming into production, having seen nearly 75% growth in plantings in the last five years alone.”

With such an abundance of grapes available, the eye is now on the export market.

Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB drew attention to the international opportunity for English and Welsh wine, particularly in the Nordics and Japan where exports are growing.

“We look forward to having more wine to present to our growing consumer base,” she said.

A recent trip to Ridgeview Wine Estate in West Sussex also provided a glimpse of how producers will be managing their expanded crush.

Mardi Roberts, head of sales and marketing, explained that the extra availability of grapes will enable the estate to age their premium range of sparkling wines, including the new Oak Reserve, for an extended period before release. The additional time will allow the wines to reach their full potential, she said, without the stresses of having to satisfy demand in an under-supplied market.

For more on this year’s harvest, refer to Wine GB’s full report, available here.