Selling wine to the French?! English wine producers eye up export potential

By Anne Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Planting acreage for English wine has doubled in the last 10 years
Planting acreage for English wine has doubled in the last 10 years

Related tags Chardonnay

English wine producers are developing export markets for their wine, as sales in the UK boom.

Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director for English Wine Producers, told that although the export market was “miniscule” at the moment, there is growing demand for English wines abroad.

A handful of producers are developing trading relations with countries in Scandinavia and the Far East, as well as the US and even France, she said.

The export market is mainly for English sparkling wine, which is made with the same grape varieties as Champagne and retails at the equivalent of £25 to £30 a bottle.

Planting acreage for English wine has doubled in the last 10 years, said Trustram Eve, with sparkling grape varieties now accounting for the majority of production.

There were 4,600 acres planted in 2013, and planting is continuing apace, she said.

English Wine Week

And English wine producers are now preparing to celebrate English Wine Week from 23 to 31 May, with tastings and promotional activities scheduled.

“English wine is selling extraordinarily well now, the retailer Waitrose has just announced that it is seeing phenomenal sales and English wine is attracting more and more followers on the High Street,"​ Trustram Eve commented. "We had a good harvest in 2014 and production volumes are growing.”

There were no accurate figures for overall sales, she said, but English wine was now available in retailers including Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco, and Sainsbury's among other large chains.

Waitrose, which says it has a 60% market share and stocks over 100 English and Welsh wines, reported its English wine sales were up 95% in 2014 on 2013, last week.

Exciting times

Rebecca Hull, Waitrose English wine buyer said: “There is a real momentum among the English wine industry right now, as new plantings come on stream and English winemakers perfect their art.

"So it's an exciting time to be involved in this industry and we're truly excited about the future. We'll be launching lots more new English wines over the coming months.”

There are nearly 500 vineyards in England and Wales and the top three grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Bacchus. The bigger English vineyards include Nyetimber, Chapel Down, Camel Valley, Denbies and Ridgeview.

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