The number of wine producers in the UK jumped 13% over the last year to a record high 397 in 2016, according to new figures from accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.
Growing demand for boutique drinks, which has also propelled growth of the UK’s craft breweries and independent distilleries, is said to be behind the rise.
The continued commercial success of market leaders such as Chapel Down, the Kent-based company which is now an official supplier to Downing Street, has encouraged more entrepreneurs to enter the market.
UHY Hacker Young partner James Simmonds said the trend across the drinks sector is for niche, local products to outperform the growth of global brands. In the wine category, this has led to more consumers swapping French wine for English wine.
“It is more of a talking point, more of an event, to order a Welsh wine than French,” he said. “But it is not just novelty value – critics are giving English and Welsh wine higher and higher ratings.”
Looking to build on the growing popularity of wine from the UK, former environment secretary Elizabeth Truss set a target last year to increase wine exports tenfold by 2020.
Warmer temperatures seen across the UK over the last two decades have also led it to higher quality UK wines being produced.
James Simmonds added: “English wine does achieve relatively high price points, suggesting it is winning a reputation for being a luxury, or at least, a premium product.
“Nowadays customers not only look for high levels of quality, but also perceived rarity in the products they buy. The novelty of high-quality wine from England could mean buyers are prepared to pay more.
“In addition, many UK vineyards are further diversifying to have restaurants and cafes and offer tastings and tours to guests. Some have even branched out into being a venue for weddings and other large events.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018
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