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2017 was a record breaking year for UK wine releases

A record number of bottles of English and Welsh wine were released onto the market last year.


HMRC figures show that 3.86 million bottles of sparkling and still wine made in UK vineyards were released for sale in 2017.


Last year’s bumper bottle count was up 64% on 2016 when 2.36 million bottles were released.


In 2000 just 1.34 million bottles were released from bond and since then the numbers have steadily risen with some years faring better than others.


The English wine industry is reaping the benefits from a huge investment in the sector leading to an increase in vines planted over the last ten years.


English sparkling wine is made in the same traditional method as Champagne, meaning it is left to age in the bottle, usually for about three years.


Not only did English vineyards have a bumper harvest in 2014, but last year saw several vineyards release of a range of special edition and older vintage wines.


The growth in output from the English wine sector is set for a further boost this year when the UK’s largest single estate vineyard releases its first sparkling wine.


Next month Rathfinny Wine Estate in Sussex will launch its sparkling, Blanc de Blancs, after bottling its first wine in May 2015. The family run wine estate will increase the English wine portfolio and aims to eventually reach production of over 80,000 cases by 2025.


Rathfinny is a shining example of the investment and growth taking place in the English wine sector in recent years. So far, the estate has planted 250,000 vines on a former arable farm in the South Downs and intends to plant a further 250,000 vines over the next five years.


Sparkling wine accounts for 66% of all English and Welsh wine produced and has gained global recognition for its quality.


Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:


“English wine releases reached a record high in 2017 with more varietals and vintages available, giving consumers a greater choice than ever before. This is great news for English winemakers who have been gaining international recognition over the past few years, leading to an impressively stocked trophy cabinet. With the high quality of English now so widely recognised, the wine industry’s newest challenge is meeting growing demand. The English wine industry is a true British success story and has ambitious plans to increase exports. We hope to see production continue to grow and forge ahead with new export opportunities.”


Mark Driver, co-founder of Rathfinny Wine Estate said:


“We’re very excited to be releasing our first Sussex Sparkling wines this year. There seems to be a lot excitement about the launch and the wines are being well received. It was always our belief that if we could make a sparkling wine that could match, or even better, some of the best sparkling wines in the world then there would be a ready market for our wines in the UK and overseas.


“English sparkling wines are winning awards in international competitions and the talk of the town in New York and Hong Kong. We expect to export up to 50% of our wines over the next few years.


“In the last 10 years the area of planted vines has more than doubled with a million vines being planted in the UK in both 2017 and planned for in 2018. It’s expected the area under vine to reach over 3000 hectares by 2020 from 2200 hectares currently.


"The success of English sparkling wines has led Champagne houses to invest in vineyards in the south of England as the chalky soils and climate are very similar to those found in the Champagne region.”


Earlier this month Vranken-Pommery became the first of the big Champagne houses to release an English sparkling wine. The fizz is made in partnership with Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley and sold under the Louis Pommery England label.


WSTA flies the flag in Hong Kong

It was not just Dr Liam Fox who was in Hong Kong this week, the WSTA was there too. In the same week that the Secretary of State signed a joint statement on trade collaboration, some of the WSTA team was leading a group of English wine and British gin producers on a trade mission, which - for the first time - was jointly funded by the UK government. 

The aim of the WSTA’s British drinks delegation was to increase awareness of English wine and British gin, help boost exports from those producers already in market and to help those producers keen to export to Hong Kong for the first time. 

The programme included briefing from UK Consulate staff on commercial operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou; and hear from commercial organisations sharing first hand experience of trading in wine and spirits in the region. 

Thursday saw participating brands showcasing their products in a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event to a wide range of importers, distributors, retailers and opinion formers. The event, which lasted four hours, also included a briefing and demonstration of his award winning gin-based cocktail by Maxim Schulte, Bar Manager, Ritz Carlton Macau. 

The trade mission rounded off with a series of tutored tastings of each WSTA participant’s brands led by MW and Hong Kong based wine journalist, Sarah Heller. 

WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale said:

“Hong Kong is one of the top target markets identified by WSTA members - both for British gin and English wine exports. I am delighted that we have been able to work so closely with the British Consulate here in Hong Kong to produce this week’s bespoke programme of events. 

“Following this visit we are even more convinced that Hong Kong holds significant potential for British gin and English wine. Moreover we learned about future opportunities in mainland China, for which exporters need to start planning well in advance.” 

Tamara Roberts, Chief Executive of Ridgeview and WSTA Board member commented: “This is the first WSTA led mission that Ridgeview has joined. It has delivered exactly what I wanted and I have been extremely impressed by the effort put into the programme by both the WSTA and the British Consulate. I have learned about doing business in this market and have been able both to introduce Ridgeview’s wine and to promote English sparkling wine as a category here in Hong Kong.”

Maxim Schulte, Beefeater MIXLDN Global Winner 2017 and Bar Manager, Ritz-Carlton Macau added “The gin scene in Hong Kong and Macau is growing rapidly. When I joined our bar at the Ritz Carlton, we were ‘gin centric’ with 25 gins on our shelves. We now stock 150 from around the globe, making us world leaders on the cocktail scene and British gins such as Beefeater 24 are amongst my favourite to work with.”. 

WSTA wins European award for Annual Conference

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s award winning Annual Conference was recognised at the European Association Awards ceremony last Friday in Brussels.


The WSTA’s submission beat five other finalists in the ‘Best Conference (less than 225 delegates)’ category, with the judges remarking that they were impressed by the excellent initiatives, like the Brexit workshop, on display at the Conference, and the structure of the day as a whole.


The WSTA Annual Conference, held in September 2017, featured a formidable line-up of speakers including Lord Price, former Trade Minister, and Tim Martin, Wetherspoon Chairman.


Also on the panel were Miriam González Durántez, Partner, Dechert LLP, and co-chair of the firm’s International Trade and Government Regulation practice and Sir Simon Fraser, Managing Partner, Flint Global, and who for five years, until 2015, was the Head of the UK Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service.


The Conference set out how the Government can deliver for the wine and spirit industry during Britain’s exit from the European Union, and also invited attendees to think creatively about the opportunities that Brexit may present.


The European Association awards were organised by Global Conference Network and are a celebration of the work that European Associations do on behalf of their members to ensure their voices are heard throughout Europe.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: 

“It’s a great achievement for the entire team to have won this award. The Annual Conference was hugely successful last year – we received a lot of positive feedback both on the Conference itself and on the Brexit workshop we held that morning.

“The whole team worked hard to deliver the Annual Conference for our members, and it’s brilliant that everyone’s hard work has been recognised and that we can now say the Conference is award winning! Planning is already well under for 2018, which promises to be our biggest and best Conference yet.”

 

Mother’s Day gin sales expected to soar following a record breaking Christmas

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s latest market report shows sales of gin in the UK hit a record high at Christmas and Mother’s Day is expected to see sales continue to soar.


Over 16 million bottles of gin, worth £413 million, were sold in the 12 weeks to the end of December. This an extra three and a half million bottles bought, up 28% in volume compared to 2016’s festive season, worth an extra £104 million.


The rapid growth in UK distilleries and the increasing number of gin brands which hit the market last year has helped 2017 break all previous records in both volume and value sales.
Britain’s love for the juniper based spirit made gin a popular gift this Christmas along with a wide range of gin themed gifts, including gin baubles, gin advent calendars and gin glass wear.


The WSTA’s latest Market Report, published tomorrow (Monday) shows that in the whole of 2017 over 51 million bottles of gin, worth almost £1.4 billion, were sold in the UK, up 27% in volume, the equivalent of over nine and a half million more bottles than in 2016.


This is the equivalent of every adult in the UK buying a bottle of gin in 2017.


Across the board sales of gin in our supermarkets and shops, pubs, bars and restaurants have beaten all previous sales recorded both annually and quarterly.


The greatest growth was shown in our supermarkets and shops in the 12 weeks to 30/12/17, when the value of gin sales grew a whopping 38% and volume sales by 28%, compared to the same period in 2016.


The bumper Christmas sales shows there are no signs of Brits losing their thirst for the quintessentially British spirit.


Last year an IWSR Forecast Report projected that gin is expected to grow by 37.2% by 2021.


2017 was also a record breaking year for British gin exports which broke the £500 million barrier hitting £530 million in value sales.


If you add exports to sales at home it adds up to over £1.9bn meaning gin is within touching distance of becoming a £2 billion industry in the UK.
Britain now boasts 315 distilleries in the UK – more than double the number that were operating across the country five years ago.


There are now well over 100 British gin brands on the market - gins come on the market so frequently the exact number is unknown. What we do know is that the number of gins now available in Britain has more than doubled since 2011.


Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:


“We were amazed by the growth of gin in 2016, but 2017 sales of the quintessentially British spirit have surpassed all records again. At the WSTA we are constantly being asked what is the magic formula behind the growth in gin sales? It is a delightful combination of a quality British product steeped in history combined with skilful innovation by UK distillers who are producing a huge range of gins catering for the consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palettes. The versatility of gin with its diverse use of botanicals means there is now a gin out there for everyone. The popularity of giving gin as a gift means we are expecting sparkling sales for Mother’s Day.”

Earlier this month the Hayman family launched its new London distillery in Balham four miles from where the family’s first distillery opened in 1863.


Hayman’s gin is just one example of a quality British distiller, with a long history of gin making, which is turning the art of gin making into a visitor experience. James Hayman said:


“It has been a longstanding ambition for me, my sister Miranda and our father to bring the family distillery back to London – where our story first started over 150 years ago. It was important that the new look reflected our heritage and traditional distilling approach whilst also looking to the future with a more contemporary palate that catches the eye and creates real presence back of bar. The new site provides a wonderful space from which we can share our story, educate, entertain and of course sample our range of True English Gins."

 

Sparkling wine sales continue to fizz as Brits break another sales record

A sneak look at the data ahead of the WSTA’s next market report shows Brits continue their love affair with sparkling wine.

Latest sales data shows that over 120 million bottles of fizz were sold in in British shops and supermarkets alone, worth over £850 million, in 2017.

When sales from the on trade are added to the off trade the number of bottles of fizz sold in total last year will go beyond the 140 million bottles sold in 12 months to September 2017. 

The UK’s sparkling wine trade has enjoyed rapid growth in the last five years with volume sales up 89% and up 206% by value. Although sales are now slowing and no longer showing double digit growth, more sparkling wine was sold in the UK last year than any previous year.

The popularity of fizz has helped to boost the English wine industry, which was confirmed by Marks and Spencer who saw a 15% rise in English sparkling wine sales last year. 

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: 

“Fizz is traditionally enjoyed by couples on Valentine’s Day, but it is clear from booming sales, over the last five years, that sparkling wine is a drink enjoyed all year round. UK consumers now have a far greater range to choose from than ever before, including world class English sparkling wines. To allow consumers to continue to enjoy a wide range of quality sparkling wines, the WSTA is calling on government to redress the UK’s excessively high duty rates which have helped leave Britain with the fourth most expensive alcohol prices in Europe.”

Liz Williams from Marks and Spencer said: 

“We have seen sales of English sparkling wine go from strength to strength at M&S over the past few years and we currently sell 17 English sparkling wines across our stores.  Sales of English sparkling rose 15% last year versus the previous year and we anticipate that this trend will continue in 2018, particularly in light of a royal baby, two royal weddings and a World Cup this year!  English sparkling rose has also been doing well, with a year on year increase of around 10% across our English pink fizz range. It’s wonderful to see M&S customers buying into locally made wines and to be supporting English winegrowers - the quality of English sparkling gets better every year and there are new producers starting out all over England so we predict a very bright future for home grown wine!”

The sparkling wine category includes Prosecco, Cava, Cremant and English sparkling wine amongst others all of which have found their way onto drinks menus in bars across the UK.

Prosecco takes up the lion’s share of the sparkling wine sales in the UK with Brits expected to have bought around 85 million bottles in the UK last year, according to IWSR.

This month saw London’s first all-prosecco bar, Prosecco House, open near Tower Bridge.

Brits pay a whopping £2.77 tax per bottle of sparkling wine, which is 28% higher than still. This meant that fizz drinkers paid almost half a billion pounds in duty to the Treasury last year. The French pay the equivalent of 6p a bottle.

The UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with British drinkers paying an extraordinary 68% of all wine duties collected by all 28 EU member states, despite accounting for only 11% of the population.

 

A sneak look at the data ahead of the WSTA’s next market report shows Brits continue their love affair with sparkling wine.

Latest sales data shows that over 120 million bottles of fizz were sold in in British shops and supermarkets alone, worth over £850 million, in 2017.

When sales from the on trade are added to the off trade the number of bottles of fizz sold in total last year will go beyond the 140 million bottles sold in 12 months to September 2017.

The UK’s sparkling wine trade has enjoyed rapid growth in the last five years with volume sales up 89% and up 206% by value. Although sales are now slowing and no longer showing double digit growth, more sparkling wine was sold in the UK last year than any previous year.

The popularity of fizz has helped to boost the English wine industry, which was confirmed by Marks and Spencer who saw a 15% rise in English sparkling wine sales last year.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

“Fizz is traditionally enjoyed by couples on Valentine’s Day, but it is clear from booming sales, over the last five years, that sparkling wine is a drink enjoyed all year round. UK consumers now have a far greater range to choose from than ever before, including world class English sparkling wines. To allow consumers to continue to enjoy a wide range of quality sparkling wines, the WSTA is calling on government to redress the UK’s excessively high duty rates which have helped leave Britain with the fourth most expensive alcohol prices in Europe.”

Liz Williams from Marks and Spencer said:

“We have seen sales of English sparkling wine go from strength to strength at M&S over the past few years and we currently sell 17 English sparkling wines across our stores.  Sales of English sparkling rose 15% last year versus the previous year and we anticipate that this trend will continue in 2018, particularly in light of a royal baby, two royal weddings and a World Cup this year!  English sparkling rose has also been doing well, with a year on year increase of around 10% across our English pink fizz range. It’s wonderful to see M&S customers buying into locally made wines and to be supporting English winegrowers - the quality of English sparkling gets better every year and there are new producers starting out all over England so we predict a very bright future for home grown wine!”

The sparkling wine category includes Prosecco, Cava, Cremant and English sparkling wine amongst others all of which have found their way onto drinks menus in bars across the UK.

Prosecco takes up the lion’s share of the sparkling wine sales in the UK with Brits expected to have bought around 85 million bottles in the UK last year, according to IWSR.

This month saw London’s first all-prosecco bar, Prosecco House, open near Tower Bridge.

Brits pay a whopping £2.77 tax per bottle of sparkling wine, which is 28% higher than still. This meant that fizz drinkers paid almost half a billion pounds in duty to the Treasury last year. The French pay the equivalent of 6p a bottle.

The UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with British drinkers paying an extraordinary 68% of all wine duties collected by all 28 EU member states, despite accounting for only 11% of the population.

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