Number of UK wineries hits 20-year high

The number of UK wineries has risen to a 20-year high after 46 budding vignerons registered with HMRC in the past year.

In the 2012/13 financial year, 31 new producers applied to HMRC to open wineries - not vineyards - and this rose 48% to 46 in 2013/14, bringing the total to 135, a figure unseen since the early 1990s.

Roy Maugham, head of tax at accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, which analysed the HMRC data, said: “Consumer interest in boutique products continues to grow. Food products, such as artisan cheeses and organically reared meats, and drinks such as craft beer and artisan spirits have been the focus of increased demand. Now, we’re seeing the same thing in the UK’s once-mocked wine industry.”

Further evidence of Brits aiming to cash in on consumer demand for boutique, artisanal products is apparent when you note that the number of breweries has jumped up 188% in the past five years, according to the firm.

It also revealed that the number of distilleries has also risen 186% in the past year as Brits turn their hands to making small-batch gin and vodka.

Maugham pointed out that the government’s removal of a minimum R&D investment requirement has allowed many small businesses such as wine producers to qualify for tax relief. Previously businesses had to spend a minimum of £10,000 on R&D to qualify for tax relief.

He said: “Many wine producers will be doing a considerable amount of R&D activity so the tax credits are giving them an opportunity to expand their businesses in other areas.

“Many wineries are developing innovative production techniques which are improving the quality of their produce, while also qualifying for tax relief.”

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