Tuesday 10 May 2016 4:02 pm

English and Welsh wine production dipped in 2015 due to "cooler conditions", according to English Wine Producers

Wine production in England and Wales fell by around a quarter in 2015 to 38,020 hectolitres, the equivalent of around 5.06m bottles. 

The drop in production was attributed to "cooler conditions" over the 2015 growing season, which also produced smaller grapes, according to the English Wine Producers body. 

The latest figures, provided by the government's Wine Standards branch, show a drop from the bumper 2014 season which was the highest production on record, which reached 48,267 hectolitres.

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Ten years ago, in 2005, production stood at 12,806 hectolitres. 

Warmer weather picked up towards the autumn, which helped ripen the grapes to harvest, but on average, producers harvested up to 10 days later than they would normally anticipate.

Although good quality grapes and flavours were produced as a result, some were more acidic as a result, though this will "prove ideal" for sparkling wine production, English Wine Producers said. 

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"The industry is definitely going from strength to strength and actually the number of vineyards and hectares planted have both risen," Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director at English Wine Producers, told City A.M. 

"When you plant vines it takes a good four or five years before they come into full production and produce wine, so there will be pay-offs in the coming years that just aren't up and running now."

Plantings continued to rise in 2015, with a total area under vine reaching 1,956 hectares.

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The number of vineyards have also increased, with 502 commercial vineyards registered – 470 were recorded in the 2013 figures. The figures published for 2015 are calculated from 121 production declarations, which represent a 89 per cent return rate.

"These figures illustrate the steady but strong growth of the industry, and 2015 is still the second highest volume recorded," Barry Lewis, chief executive of the United Kingdom Vineyards Association, said. 

"The good news is that despite the lower volume, remains that the quality is looking to be very good and in line with industry predictions."