Number of UK wine producers leaps 13% in a year to record high 397

Publications that covered this story include the Telegraph, The i, Metro, Daily Express, Bloomberg and the The Independent, all on 30 October.
  • Trend for boutique drinks continues to grow

The number of wine producers in the UK* jumped 13% over the last year, to a record high 397 in 2016 up from 352 in 2015 (see graph below).

Growing demand for “boutique” drinks, which has also propelled growth of the UK’s craft breweries and independent distilleries, is behind the jump in the number of UK wine producers.

The continued commercial success of market leaders such as Chapel Down, the Kent based company which is now an official supplier to Downing Street, has encouraged more entrepreneurs to enter the market.

James Simmonds, partner and Head of our National Drinks Sector Group, says the trend across the drinks sector is for niche, “local” products to outperform the growth of global brands. In the wine category, that has led to more consumers swapping French or New World wine for English wine.

“It is more of a talking point, more of an event, to order a Welsh wine than French. But it is not just novelty value – critics are giving English and Welsh wine higher and higher ratings.”

UK wines have been winning many more awards at internationally acclaimed events in the last few years, including:

  • Camel Valley’s Pinot Noir Rosé won Gold at the Decanter World Wine Awards;
  • Bolney Wine Estate’s Pinot Gris 2016 won the Top Still Wine award UK at the Wine Awards 2017;
  • Coates & Seely Blanc de Blancs Vintage ‘La Perfide’ 2009 was winner of a Trophy at the International Wine Challenge

Looking to build on the growing popularity of wine from the UK, former Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss set a target last year to increase wine exports tenfold by 2020.

Hotter temperatures seen across the UK over the last two decades have also led it to higher quality UK wines being produced.

James Simmonds adds: “English wine does achieve relatively high price points, suggesting it is winning a reputation for being a luxury, or at least, a premium product.”

“Nowadays customers not only look for high levels of quality, but also perceived rarity in the products they buy. The novelty of high-quality wine from England could mean buyers are prepared to pay more.”

“In addition, many UK vineyards are further diversifying to have restaurants and cafes and offer tastings and tours to guests. Some have even branched out into being a venue for weddings and other large events.”

Wine producers in the UK jump 13% to a record high 397 last year

*Measures both “English” wine, where grapes are grown in English or Welsh vineyards, and “British” wine, made from imported grapes or grape juice. British wine typically sells at lower prices than wine made from grapes grown in England or Wales.