There are currently around 2,500 ha (6,200 acres) of vineyards in the UK and this has increased by over 140% in the last 10 years. There are about 700 vineyards (about 540 are commercial) and around 160 wineries, producing an average of around 5 million bottles a year (5.9m in 2017). The styles produced are:
In the short term: area under vine predicted to grow at least 50% to 3,000 ha (7,200 acres). 1 million vines were planted in 2017 and 1.7 m are expected to be planted in 2018. Production to increase to around 10-12 million bottles.
Sparkling wine sector continues to grow year on year. Most of the recent plantings are for sparkling wine production (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier account for over 50% of total varietal plantings).
Sparkling wine alone, in the next three years, is likely to be 5+ million bottles giving this sector a retail sales value of some £100 million.
The reason for this growth can be mainly attributed to:
- A more favourable climate for wine growing and the belief that global warming will continue
- Awards: The huge success of England’s wines in international competitions
- Favourable press coverage: English wines are now a frequent good news story
- Sales and market demand: Sparkling wines achieve similar prices to Champagne (and sell well)
- Expansion of large, commercial vineyards, with much investment
- Interest from consumers in buying local (food and wine) and the environmental benefits
- The serving of English and Welsh wines at prestigious events such as the Royal wedding, the Queen’s jubilee, the London Olympics and Henley Royal regatta.
- Interest in Cool Climate wines
- Education and training – skills have improved
- Increasing interest in Wine Tourism
Longer term growth is considered in the WineGB Trade Survey 2018′ Looking to the Future’ – click here WineGB Industry Report l 2018
However, the UK remains a marginal and challenging ‘Cool Climate’ for grape growing and wine production and there are many factors to consider before planting a vineyard:
- The importance of selecting the right site, which will influence profitability
- The costs of establishing and managing a vineyard
- The likely income from grapes or wine
- The styles of wines to be produced and their markets
- It is very important to get the right site for a vineyard as it is one of the major Influences of yield and profit.
- Temperature/sun, an important factor for yield as influences bud initiation, fruit set and ripening
- Rainfall (around 450-500 mm, seasonal required, but excess can be a problem
- Altitude – the maximum is considered to be about 120m and is has the effect of lowering temperature, and suffering from increased wind.
- Aspect – south facing for maximising sunlight interception, drainage of air and water.
- Wind exposure – this can be cooling as well as damaging to vine shoots.
All vineyards over 0.1 hectares need to be registered with Wine Standards within 6 months of planting. Please use the Vineyard Registration form – click here
Each year Wine Standards publish the UK Vineyards Register 2017
For more information:
- ‘Wine Growing in Great Britain’ by Stephen Skelton MW, for useful information facts and figures (see the Recommended Reading ).
- Dr Alistair Nesbitt at Vinescapes.com for detailed climate information and site selection. Twitter: @vinescapesUK
- Click here for a full list of Recommended Reading on this website.
- A listing of commercial suppliers, contractors and consultants is available here
- Training and education