WSTA announces 2017 as record year for English wine releases
A record number of bottles of English and Welsh wine were released onto the market last year, according to the latest figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
Statistics for 2017 show an increase of 64% on 2016, with a total of 3.86 million bottles of sparkling and still wine made in UK vineyards released for sale throughout 2017, according to HMRC figures.
In comparison, in 2000 just 1.34 million bottles were released. Since this date the English wine industry has seen huge investments in the sector, leading to an increase in vines planted over the last eight to 10 years. English sparkling wine, which is made is the same traditional method as Champagne, is generally aged in bottles for about three years.
The results for 2017 reflect the bumper harvest of 2014 as well as several vineyards releasing a range of special edition and older vintage wines.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “English wine releases reached a record high in 2017 with more varietals and vintages available, giving consumers a greater choice than ever before. This is great news for English winemakers who have been gaining international recognition over the past few years, leading to an impressively stocked trophy cabinet.
"With the high quality of English now so widely recognised, the wine industry’s newest challenge is meeting growing demand. The English wine industry is a true British success story and has ambitious plans to increase exports. We hope to see production continue to grow and forge ahead with new export opportunities.”
Next month Rathfinny Wine Estate in Sussex – the UK’s largest single estate vineyard – will release its first sparkling wine. The producer will launch its sparkling, Blanc de Blancs, after bottling its first wine in May 2015. The family-run wine estate eventually aims to reach production of more than 80,000 cases by 2025 and it intends to plant 250,000 vines over the next five years.
Mark Driver, co-owner of Rathfinny, said: “We are very excited to be releasing our first Sussex Sparkling wines this year.
“In the last 10 years the area of planted vines has more than doubled with a million vines being planted in the UK in both 2017 and planned for in 2018. It is expected the area under vine to reach over 3000 hectares by 2020 from 2200 hectares currently.”
Earlier this month Vranken-Pommery became the first of the big Champagne houses to release an English sparkling wine. The fizz is made in partnership with Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley and sold under the Louis Pommery England label.