UK winemakers seek government support
The government is being urged to champion the English wine industry after a fact-finding visit to a leading Sussex vineyard by a group of MPs.
Rathfinny Wine Estate co- owner Mark Driver asked for more help in raising the profile of the English wine industry which the Wine & Spirit Trade Association – which set up the meeting – said would double in size within seven years.
Driver said: “These are exciting times for all those involved in the production of English wine and we are extremely encouraged that the MPs who visited Rathfinny were able to see this first hand.
“We hope to see English still and sparkling wines being showcased at all government-hosted events and in parliament.”
Rathfinny’s own forecasts suggest it will be making 1 million bottles a year by 2020 when it will have expanded from 75ha under vine to 162ha and created up to 65 new jobs.
The WSTA said the amount of land under vine in the UK had grown by an average of 11% a year over the past 10 years. There are 470 vineyards and 135 wineries producing an average of some 3 million bottles a year in the UK.
Chief executive Miles Beale said: “If this trend continues the land coverage of English vineyards will double over the next seven years. It is fantastic to have MPs taking a real interest in the industry and seeing the benefits it delivers to local communities and the wider economy.
“The English wine industry has the quality and technical capability to compete globally and – with capacity increasing rapidly – it represents great export potential for our economy.
“Vineyards are fast becoming hotspots for rural tourism with more than 100 out of 470 vineyards opening their doors to the public, offering tours, on-site eateries and shops. There has been a 65% increase in visitors this year.”
Tim Loughton MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Wine & Spirits, who led the delegation, said: “There is a huge opportunity for English winemakers to export their award-winning wines across the globe and we hope to work with the industry to bring yet more jobs and investment into the UK’s growing economy.
“We will be making the case to government for greater support for businesses in our emerging English wine industry, so that it can compete with the best at home and abroad.
“This is an industry which is taking on the best wines in France and the New World and increasingly winning against some of the most established names around. It is a quality British product which we should be championing loudly and enthusiastically.”