Monday 30 May 2016 11:49 am

The English wine industry uncorked another bumper year in 2015

The English wine industry gained more fizz last year as 37 new wine producers and vineyards opened over 2015, research from national accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young has found. 

A total of 170 wine producers have entered the domestic industry over the past five years, UHY Hacker Young said, while the popularity of boutique alcohol and locally-made products were key driving factors behind English wine's success. 

It has also been driven by what is considered to be higher quality English wine, rather than perceived to be "lower quality" British wine, which is made from imported grapes. 

Read more: How Nyetimber put English wines on the map

More than 70 English wines won medals at the 2015 International Wine Challenge and 14 sparkling wines including offerings from the Sussex-based Bluebell Vineyard, Squerryes Estate and the Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley Wines. 

Although sales are currently largely restricted to the UK market, exports are expected to rise over the next four years.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) predicts that UK wine exports will increase from £3.2m in 2015 to over £30m by 2020. 

 

This will be aided by Britain's place as the "beating heart" of the global wine trade, according to recent research from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. Britain's wine trade has more than doubled in the last decade, while the country has become a key hub for importing and distributing wine to 124 countries across the world. 

Read more: Drink up: Brexit could threaten the UK wine industry's export markets

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said:

In recent years the wine industry has gone from strength to strength, and customers are now opting for English wines over French or Italian products, which twenty years ago would have been seen as a joke. 

Products like English Sparkling Wine have now firmly established themselves at the same table as those with Protected Destination of Origin status, such as Prosecco or Champagne. 

Many English vineyards do a lot more than produce wine, which can make them very profitable businesses. They are diversifying to offer tastings and tours, have restaurants, rooms for overnight guests and even be a venue for weddings and other events.

English wine production fell by around a quarter in 2015 to 38,020 hectolitres, attributed mostly to "cooler conditions" over the 2015 growing season and a bumper 2014 crop, which was the highest on record. 

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