The soaring popularity of English wine has fuelled a rush to develop UK vineyards, with applications rising by more than 40% in the past year, new figures reveal.
As producers must pay wine duty, they need a licence from HM Revenue and Customs. Last year, HMRC received 65 applications from new entrants, up from 46 in the previous year, according to accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.
That compares to 31 applications received in 2012-13, as the UK’s boutique food and drink sector – including craft beer and artisan spirits – continues to flourish.
UK producers have struggled in the past with an inconsistent climate and higher production costs than continental rivals. But last year domestic vineyards – now numbering nearly 500 in England and Wales – enjoyed a long, warm spring and summer, bringing high-quality grapes in large volumes.
Buckingham Palace officials chose Ridgeview’s Grosvenor 2009 brut from the South Downs in East Sussex as a sparkling aperitif for last week’s state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping, hosted by the Queen. Ridgeview is a member of a consortium of Sussex wine producers that is finalising a bid for “protected designation of origin” (PDO) status.
Other high-quality producers who have helped to raise the profile of English wine include Chapel Down, which won the prestigious Gold Award at the 2015 International Wine Challenge and Denbies, the UK’s largest vineyard, which currently produces around 10% of all wine in the UK.
“The UK’s wine industry has really stepped up its game in recent years and as it continues to make its way up the rankings these products are increasingly viewed as luxury items” James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, explained.
“There’s huge demand in the UK for locally sourced products and the growing interest in the wine industry naturally follows on from the surge in popularity of craft beer over the last five years. English wine is now regarded as an aspirational product in the same vein as craft beer.”
Source: The Guardian