The number of new wine producers opening in the UK hit a record high last year, according to research from UHY Hacker Young.
A total of 80 new wine producers started up in 2017 – up 25% from 64 the year before – as the reputation of the country’s wine sector continues to improve. The UK has not previously been known for its outstanding wines, with a climate that is not totally conducive to wine production, but that perception is shifting.
The number of new wineries is more than double the number that opened five years ago, highlighting a continued upward trend.
It comes as the number of celebrity endorsements grow, not least with English sparkling wine reportedly on the menu at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May.
In particular, there is strong performance in English sparkling wines.
Why is UK wine taking off?
UHY Hacker Young said that investments in British vineyards were growing. In particular, it is becoming fashionable for workers in the financial services industry in the City of London to invest their bonuses in vineyards, with prices much lower than in established wine-producing areas in Europe.
The growth in UK based wine producers can also be attributed to the continuing popularity of English wine, particularly English sparkling wine.
Quality perceptions continue to improve among consumers, with vineyard owners increasingly focusing on quality rather than volume as the British weather typically does not allow for the growth of large yields. The English wine industry has shown itself now to be resilient enough to overcome the effects of a bad season; English wine growers experienced disastrous weather conditions in May last year, which saw almost 50% of the English wine crop destroyed or damaged by frosts.
The pricing of English wine has also helped its popularity among consumers. With the recent fall in sterling, English wine has become increasingly competitive, especially in comparison with expensive imported wine from the continent.
James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young in Nottingham, said: “While City workers may have previously invested in the traditional wine regions of Bordeaux or Chianti, they now have the option of being part of the UK wine scene.
“The high quality of English wine is now not only being recognised by domestic consumers but is also starting to win acclaim on an international level.
“As English wine continues to thrive more producers and enthusiasts will likely seek to capitalise on its success this will help to drive further investment so that the present growth trend is further enforced.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018
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