Wine producers across the UK are hailing 2018 the harvest of the century following a record-breaking summer and an unusually warm autumn resulting in excellent quality grapes with high yields.
David Parkinson, CEO, WineGB, comments:
“This year’s extraordinary harvest offers the UK wine industry so many exciting opportunities. It comes at a time when there is so much uncertainty around Brexit, particularly in the agricultural sector and is a real boost for the country. With the rise in rural employment that we are likely to see over the next 20 years, the growth in wine tourism that will result from the expansion of wineries across the country and the continuing increase in exports, the future of the UK wine industry looks very bright indeed.”
Some winemakers started to harvest in September and others are still picking now but all are reporting clean, ripe grapes with concentrated fruit, good sugars and acidity levels, thanks to the ideal growing conditions. Producers across the country are predicting an excellent year for English still wines, particularly red wines. The unusually hot, dry summer has resulted in very ripe fruit with concentrated flavours which should translate into some very exciting still wines. The outlook is just as positive for sparkling wine producers on both the quality and quantity front.
Many producers are reporting at least double the volume they harvested in 2017 which was a particularly challenging year for many, due to the early frosts which affected many wine regions across Europe. With last year’s total volume at around 6 million bottles, the 2018 vintage is likely to be at least twice, if not three times the size. Whilst it is far too early to predict actual volumes at this stage, WineGB will be conducting a vineyard survey in the first quarter of 2019.
Whilst there is a small increase in volume due to new vineyards coming on stream or maturing, the most significant factor for this year’s high volumes and superb quality is the exceptionally long, warm, dry summer and early autumn.
With consumer demand for English and Welsh wine continuing to grow both at home and abroad, the extra volumes will be welcomed. As the export market continues to expand, there is also more and more demand for our wines from markets such as the US, Scandinavia, Asia and Australia which presents further opportunities for producers.