• Independent retailers see consumers ‘shop local’ during lockdown leading to growth in sales of English wines
• APPG led by Andrew Griffith MP adds weight to the fast-growing industry
As Wines of Great Britain (WineGB), celebrates English Wine Week this week, the industry body which represents wine producers in England and Wales reports a notable spike in retail sales of English and Welsh wines in the last few months
Multiple retailers have led the charge, with Waitrose & Partners reporting that sales of English and Welsh wines are up 40% year on year, with demand for local and regional wines soaring as shoppers look to support Britain’s wine producers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Specialist wine retailer Majestic1 is also reporting notable strong growth in English wines during the lockdown period, with volumes up 102% on the same period last year. The company has seen a marked increase in demand for English wines – in particular still wines – and has recently boosted its range with the introduction of a number of new lines. Still rosé in particular is one area Majestic highlighted as being an exciting frontier following a doubling in demand.
Independent wine shops are also noticing an increase in demand for English Wine. Emily Silva, Head of Retail & Marketing at The Oxford Wine Company says: “The area where we’ve seen the biggest change has been English still wine. We’ve seen a 221% increase in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
This is partly due to the fact that we have added quite a few new English still wines to the list as we’ve seen a big growth in customer demand.”
There has also been a big increase in the number of specialist wine retailers2 dedicated to English and Welsh wines over the last year, and these too are seeing a boom in sales.
Matt Hodgson of Grape Britannia comments: “Since the pandemic reset everything, we’ve been delighted by the support from the local community to whom we deliver wine by bike, but also by the significant spike in national sales, with orders this past quarter running at almost 400% of the previous quarter. This has been driven by both returning and new customers, demonstrating the huge potential market, but also the quality of the English and Welsh wines that we sell – customers don’t come back if they don’t like what’s in the bottles they’ve bought”, explains Hodgson.
Simon Robinson, Chairman of Wine GB comments: “These reports from retailers spell fantastic news for the industry and as more and more consumers are supporting the local industry and enjoying all styles of our wines it shows what a great future this category has.
“There is such genuine support and commitment from the UK trade to our producers as they inspire their customers with an ever more accessible choice of wines from the UK. Our keen message to wine drinkers across the country is that our wines are
readily available and ready to be enjoyed!”
He added “Our industry has seen some real challenges since the start of the pandemic with the closure of the hospitality industry and it is excellent news that this sector is opening up again on 4 July.”
As restaurants and bars reopen, so vineyards themselves are starting to open to the public in line with the easing of restrictions. Whilst few are accessible during English Wine Week, wine drinkers are responding enthusiastically to the many virtual events and promotions that producers and retailers have set up instead and increasingly engaging with them on social media.
With the closure during lockdown of vineyards and the loss of cellar door sales (which accounts for just over a quarter of sales for English & Welsh vineyards), consumers have turned to online sales channels to buy English wines. Digital agency Semmetrical3 notes that during March, English Sparkling wine generated the highest search interest over the last 12 months – but English Red Wine has experienced almost 42% (41.6%) increase in interest since the start of March (Range 1st Mar – 14th June).
According to their report, March saw a significant spike in searches for English wine, both on the night that it was announced that pubs and bars must close, and a week later into lockdown. Notably, searches for ‘English sparkling wine’ are now on par with ‘Spanish wine’, which highlights its relatively new-found popularity.
WineGB represents a sector that is seeing exponential growth and the industry now has the support of a dedicated All Party Parliamentary Group, which was formed earlier this year and whose membership is made of many MPs with vineyards in their constituencies. Its Chairman Andrew Griffith MP (Arundel & South Downs) adds his support for the industry, commenting:
“I am delighted to support English Wine Week, and to see that across the breadth and depth of the country there are dozens of vineyards taking part in this important annual marketing initiative from a fast-growing and successful industry.
“This year it comes at a critical moment as vineyards are anxiously waiting for the re-opening of the hospitality industry so that these world-class wines can be enjoyed once again in our pubs, restaurants, and hotels.
“I hope that all wine-loving consumers will embrace the stunning array of very high quality wines that are now available from UK producers, either by buying them online directly from the vineyard, or from their supermarkets and wine merchants”, comments Griffith.
– Ends –
Notes to Editors
English Wine Week is taking place from 20-28 June
English Wine Week is a celebration organised by WineGB. The Week presents an ideal opportunity to get to know English wines better, as vineyards and retailers highlight the many fantastic wines that are readily available.
Normally English Wine Week is a great time to visit vineyards and enjoy the many events and promotions taking place as well as take part in in-store tastings and themed dinners.
This year most of the activities have moved online with virtual tours and tastings on social media, Zoom and other platforms.
Further information about English Wine Week and the industry in general, please visit www.winegb.co.uk
1 Comment from Majestic
“The last few months have been challenging for everyone connected with our industry.” explains Robert Cooke, Chief Commercial Officer at Majestic. “But one of the few positives has been the way in which customers have really used this as an opportunity to branch out and try something new. Perhaps because they’ve been faced with a more restricted routine – wine has been one way at least in which they can broaden their horizons. And to see English Wine as one of the key areas they’ve chosen to explore has been fantastic”.
2 There are now 10 retailers specializing in English & Welsh wine
3 Digital agency Semmetrical produced The World Wide Web of Wine Report in June 2020. Key findings:
Top Searches by Origin
“Keyword search volume for origin-specific wine terms were analysed to determine which country’s wine is most sought after by Brits. Here we can see that Italian and French wine are the most searched for varieties. Notably, searches for English sparkling wine are on par with Spanish wine, which highlights its relatively new found popularity.”
Keyword Monthly Search Volume
1. wine Italy 5,400
2. Italian wine 5,400
3. wine from France 3,600
4. wine France 3,600
5. French wine 3,600
6. Spanish wine 2,900
7. English sparkling wine 2,900