Food & Drink

UK wine industry toasts bumper harvest

Britain’s been enjoying one of its hottest summer on record. And that’s good news for one growing industry that’s heavily reliant on the weather… wine-making. As Shaun Hassett reports, English vineyards are set to reap their biggest harvest on record.

(Reuters) – When the sun shines in Britain, people head outdoors.

And they’ll often soak up the sun with a drink – whether that’s beer, cider, spirits, or wine.

Retailer Waitrose says its sparkling wine sales have risen by more than 50% this summer.

But people aren’t just drinking more wine this year, the country is producing more wine too.

MATT STRUGNELL, VINEYARD MANAGER, RIDGEVIEW,

“We’re about 2-and-a-half tonnes-a hectare up on a normal year I would say in this vineyard.”

He says it’s been consistently over 30 degrees at the vineyard this summer, with the temperature reaching as high as 36 degrees.

He says the dry start to summer following a wet spring has been ideal.

MATT STRUGNELL, VINEYARD MANAGER, RIDGEVIEW,

“So what we’ve got is quite big bunches, loads of berries on them. So what we’re looking at with these is you know is an absolute dream scenario in terms of grape growing.”

Vineyards in the region are on track for an earlier harvest – some are looking at dates in mid-September rather than the usual time of early October.

And it’s got people in the industry predicting 2018 could be a record year.

MILES BEALE, CEO, WINE AND SPIRIT TRADE ASSOCIATION,

“So the best year on record for English wine was 2014 when we produced about 6.4 million bottles – hopefully this year we’re on track for even more.”

The average for the past five years has been around 5 million.

MILES BEALE, CEO, WINE AND SPIRIT TRADE ASSOCIATION,

“Overall what we’re looking at is getting to more like 10 million by shortly after 2020, so that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Much of that growth is being driven by the big estates Chapel Down, Nyetimber, and Rathfinny, which are all producing close to a million bottles a year each.

But with all this growth in supply, will the demand for English wine be able to keep up?

Ivan Ruis is the Development Manager at Wright Brothers, which stocks English wine at its restaurants.

IVAN RUIS, DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, WRIGHT BROTHERS RESTAURANTS,

“The response has been great. I think the UK market in general has been more welcoming when it comes to English sparkling wine. People ask by name for it, so some people actually ask for the sparking English wine which is something that has only been happening for probably the last two years I’d say.”

And with hotter summers becoming the norm in Britain that’s giving wine lovers something to cheer about.


Associated Links

  • Waitrose
  • Wright Brothers
  • Hassett
  • Surnames

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