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English Wine Week kicks off with new WineGB manifesto

Published:  17 June, 2024

Ahead of the General Election and also English Wine Week, WineGB has launched its Manifesto for Growth which identifies the three main areas which require support from the new government.

It was a big week for the UK’s politics last week, with all the major parties releasing their manifestos ahead of polling season. It is also English Wine Week this week, which runs from Saturday 15 June to Sunday 23 for 2024 and is responsible for a plethora of activities highlighting the innovation occurring in England’s wineries and vineyards.

To coincide with the two events, Wine GB has also now released its own Manifesto for Growth which looks at the future of English Welsh wine industry – the fastest growing agricultural sector in the UK. The industry brought in its largest ever harvest last year and is experiencing rapid growth with planting predicted to rise by 84% by 2032.

The 2023 harvest was indicative of where the industry will be regularly cropping in five years’ time (while at the same time a further 40% increase in planting of vines is anticipated), the report said. When the 2023 harvest came in, there were significant infrastructure constraints, which meant that winemakers couldn’t maximise the value from their grapes.

Now, WineGB is calling on the new government to ensure that the right investment occurs, opportunities are taken and regulatory blocks are removed to safeguard the sustainable growth of our sector.

Commenting on the launch, CEO of WineGB Nicola Bates said: “We are a growing industry, our producers are investing, and we are supporting them. We are looking at the next government to accelerate the growth of our industry.

“As such, we are lobbying for fairer business, a better environment for change and for the government to place greater value on its home-grown wines.”

A number of other activities are taking place this week to mark the week-long event.

WineGB’s highlights include a Tourism Report launch, which is taking place today (17 June) in London. UK vineyards receive over 1.5 million visits each year, with a quarter of wineries’ income derived from wine tourism. WineGB is also asking the government to support this growing part of the industry, linked to growing sustainable cellar doors.

Other key news for English Wine Week includes the latest from Sussex’s Roebuck Estates. The estate has become the official sparkling wine partner for RHS Hampton Court Garden Palace Festival which starts on 1 July.

This marks the first time the festival has chosen an English sparkling wine producer as its official sparkling wine. Around 135,000 visitors are expected, with Roebuck sparkling wines featuring in all Hampton Court’s hospitality areas, as well as a dedicated Roebuck Estates Sparkling Wine Tipi Bar.

“This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our brand journey but also shows how exciting the English sparkling wine category is right now,” says Roebuck Estates CEO, Michael Kennedy.

Last but not least, 67 Pall Mall is hosting a special event to kick off English Wine Week today. Vinous Victory: Celebrating English Wine’s Past, Present and Promising Future, aims to mark what organisers are calling “a game-changing year for English sparkling wine” in 2024. The industry has seen a 200% increase in sales over the past four years and a 74% expansion in vineyard land over five years. This celebration will explore the remarkable journey of English wine and its exciting future through insightful discussions and unexpected tastings.

Gusbourne’s head winemaker, Mary Bridges, commented: “English Wine Week is an incredibly exciting time for Gusbourne, and there is always a great buzz in the air as we celebrate the thriving and dynamic English wine industry. It’s brilliant to see our category growing not only with an array of styles emerging from vineyards across England, but the quality within the category gets better and better every year.

“At Gusbourne we recently finalised the sparkling blends crafted from our 2023 harvest and are really impressed with the quality of the base wines, particularly in the Chardonnay. As we prepare these blends for bottling, the excitement builds as we await their development – this is always such an exciting time for the team. Our vineyards are bursting into life and The Nest is bustling with activity, so it really feels like the season is gathering momentum and we’re eager to be a part of another superb year.”