Whether it’s Sussex fizz in South Africa or a glass of Cornish Brut in the Caribbean, more countries than ever before will be able to raise a toast with English sparkling wine this New Year’s Eve, announced Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom today.
Cases of home grown bubbles, which make up nearly 70% of our total wine production, were shipped to a record 27 countries this year, delighting taste buds from Japan to Taiwan and even major wine producing regions like France and Italy.
At home, New Year’s celebrations will also start with an English fizz as sales of home grown wine at Marks & Spencer’s doubled this year and 50% more sparkling wine flew off the shelves at Waitrose.
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
“Thanks to sparkling rosé from Kent and Chardonnay from Sussex, we are rightly taking our place among the world’s most renowned wine producers.
“The number of countries enjoying our wine has increased by a third this year, and with major producers on track to deliver a 10-fold increase in exports, we could soon be tapping into more countries.
“Our vintners are set for huge success in 2017 with wineries growing and more bottles on supermarket shelves – I hope people across the country will join me in raising a glass to this incredible success story.”
Chalky soils, south-facing slopes and warm temperatures mean conditions are ideal for producing wine in the UK and the industry now boasts sales of around £100 million a year.
Growing demand has led to land under vine doubling over the last ten years, with 30 vineyards opening in the last two years alone.
One upcoming English brand, Simpsons Wine Estate, has been making award-winning wine in the south of France for 14 years, but recently brought their expertise to Kent to create an exciting new English variety.
With 90 acres of land, they planted their first 10 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir in 2014 producing 22,000 bottles of wine from their first harvest this year.
Co-owner of Simpsons Wine Estate, Ruth Simpson said:
“The potential to grow the Champagne varieties and produce world class sparkling wine was what inspired us to establish Simpsons Wine Estate back in the UK.
“Kent has the highest sunshine hours in the UK, providing more hours for the all-important process of photosynthesis. We chose Barham due to its proximity to the coast, its altitude and its south-facing, free draining, chalky limestone soils, which are perfect for viticulture.”
Chairman of English Wine Producers, Simon Robinson said:
“It’s boom-time for English wines. The growing trend on the high street shows the retailers have really got behind them and the wine consumers of Britain are responding.
“Our export sales are also on the up, with new markets opening up around the world. We’re looking forward to even more wines coming on to the market next year.
“What better way to welcome in the New Year than with a glass or two of our own home-grown wines – there are plenty to choose from.”
Cork-popping successes for English wine over the last year:
- More than five million bottles of wine were produced in the UK in 2015.
- There are more than 500 commercial vineyards in this country comprising 133 wineries spread over approximately 5,000 acres of land.
- The UK has opened the door to lucrative markets around the world including the US – with the first two full containers of English wine shipped to New York earlier this year. English wine is now exported to 27 countries – up from 19 in 2015.
- Our producers have secured contracts with some of the world’s most exclusive restaurants and hotels such as The Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the Ritz in London.
- Already Champagne heavyweights have brought their business to the UK. Champagne Taittinger bought 69 hectares of Kent farmland to produce fizz in the UK.
- The UK collected 120 medals at this year’s International Wine Challenge, the International wine and Spirit Competition and Decanter World Wine Awards, with many of our sparkling wines giving Champagnes a run for their money.