English Wine on a Roll
English wines are on a roll - this year it is estimated that another two million vines will be planted. England’s vineyards have doubled in size in the past 8 years and tripled since 2000. There are currently 7,000 acres under vine across 164 wineries and a record breaking 15.6 million bottles were produced in 2018, 130% higher than the previous year’s crop in 2017 and far exceeding the previous record of 6.3m bottles in 2014.
A recent study suggested that there are approximately 70,000 acres of land that may be highly suitable for vine plantation. By 2040, there could be 40 million bottles produced creating a market worth over £1bn (by comparison Champagne produces over 500 million bottles per year). Gosh. It is not only English and Welsh producers who are planting new vineyards. French champagne houses are moving in, with Tattinger the first to buy land in Kent, followed by Pommery’s venture in Hampshire and more are sure to follow...
The English Climate
Our marginal climate is better suited to sparkling wine varietals, so it is not surprising to find that 68% of bottles produced are sparkling with the classic grape varieties Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier accounting for over 71% of all grapes planted. Of course, it helps when both the Queen and Downing Street assist with the PR – Buckingham Palace have served sparkling wines from Gusbourne Estate (Kent) and Ridgeview (in the South Downs) at state banquets and Chapel Down (also in Kent) is an official supplier to No.10.
Sparkling Wine Innovation
Sparkling wine producers continue to innovate. Flint Vineyards in Norfolk and Fitz in Sussex are now producing Prosecco-style, more fruit-driven sparkling wines using the Charmat method (secondary fermentation in tank rather than the traditional method in bottle).
Still Whites on the Up!
Clearly, it isn’t only all about the sparkling stuff. Still wines continue to improve in quality with some excellent Pinot Noir and Bacchus wines now being produced. The New Hall Bacchus Reserve we feature as one of our go-to wines is regularly praised in the press, with The Times’ Jane MacQuitty being a big fan.
Helping to drive the growth of English wines is wine tourism, where there is a thriving scene offering an experience once reserved for trips overseas. This year, clusters of vineyards in the winelands of England are promoting their regions as go to places to visit – and we suggest you do exactly that. So, pick up your secateurs and enjoy a visit to a vineyard and in the meantime, we encourage you to taste an English bottle or three when you next order from us.