UK winemakers optimistic as hot summer bodes well for 'dream harvest'

The UK wine industry is celebrating one of the earliest harvests on record as picking started last week.

The outlook remains positive for the industry with predicted high yields of fruit and more acreage coming into production, following 2018’s hot summer weather.

Simon Robinson, chairman of WineGB, and owner of Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley, said: “The whole wine industry is excited about the potential this harvest brings which will probably lead to the highest level of production ever. Growing conditions across the country have been ideal and this shows in both excellent quality and high yield. This is very welcome as sales of wine continue to rise rapidly, both domestically and overseas.

“The wine industry is a bright star in the UK agricultural sector which is concerned about the post-Brexit world. The wine producers of Great Britain are looking forward to the future with increasing confidence. 2018 looks to be a very welcome harvest, although as many have commented, nobody counts on anything until the grapes are safely in tank or barrel!”

There is also a positive outlook for this year’s vintage among Welsh producers. Robb Merchant, owner of White Castle Vineyard and chairman of the Welsh Vineyards Association, predicts his largest harvest since his first vintage in 2011.

He said: “We are expecting to start harvesting some of our early-ripening varieties on September 9, two weeks earlier than last year and a month earlier than average. The grapes are looking very clean and we are confident that the quality will be excellent. I have spoken to many Welsh vineyard owners over the last few days who are all reporting earlier harvest dates and large crops.”

The anticipated large harvest comes at a time of unprecedented growth for the wine industry of Great Britain, with the hectarage of vines planted doubling in the last ten years and tripling since 2000. In the last two years alone, over 2.5m vines have been planted in England and Wales. Earlier this year, WineGB set out its growth predictions for the industry over the next decades, indicating that by 2040 annual bottle production will reach around 40m bottles.

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