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WSTA toasts the sparkling success of English wine on St George’s Day

A record number of English and Welsh sparkling wine was sold in the UK last year with Brits buying 4 million bottles, up 6% on 2017.

UK consumers bought more home-grown fizz than they did sparkling wines from Australia, the US and Germany combined in 2018.

Italy remains top of the pops as the UK’s number one favourite fizz, selling around 117 million bottles in 2018, thanks to Brits’ love of Prosecco, followed by Champagne which sold almost 24 million bottles.

Coming third in the UK’s favourite fizz top ten is Spain, selling over 23 million bottles, mainly Cava, the rest of France (excluding Champagne) sold over 5 million bottles, with the UK coming in fifth.

English winemakers are looking forward to even bigger sales in the next couple of years when wine made from grapes grown in the sweltering summer of 2018 arrives on supermarket shelves.

Last year was a vintage year for both quality and quantity for English and Welsh wines, with a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles of still and sparkling produced. This compares to 5.9 million in 2017.

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.

1.6m vines were planted – over 1000 acres last year - and vine plantings are expected to exceed the 2million mark in 2019, confirming the UK wine industry as one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the UK.

Last year’s bumper British bottle count comes when UK sales in the sparkling wine category are slowing, partly down to the UK’s excessively high duty rates and the fallout of Brexit.

Following Brexit’s impact on the pound combined with inflation the wine trade is facing a tough trading landscape.

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

“Everyone should take the opportunity to toast our talented English wine makers with a glass of home-grown fizz on St George’s Day. A bit like St George, against all the odds, the UK wine trade has come out fighting and proved it can compete with the best of the best at a global level. The Government needs to do more to support this emerging British success story and the Chancellor can and should start bringing down his excessively high duty rates after he unfairly singled out wine for a duty rise in his last Budget.”

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.

Sparkling wine accounts for 68% of all English and Welsh wine produced and has gained global recognition for its quality.

The success of English sparkling wines has led Champagne houses Vranken-Pommery and Taittinger 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.

Duty is currently so high that 55% of an average priced bottle of still wine sold in our shops and supermarkets is now taken by the Treasury in tax and VAT. 

Around two thirds of the wine made in England and Wales is sparkling wine which attracts the highest level of duty, at £2.86 (plus VAT) on a bottle of fizz – a third higher than the £2.23 duty plus VAT UK consumers pay on a bottle of still wine.

By contrast, in France, consumers pay the equivalent of just 7p a bottle on duty for sparkling and 3p for still.


World’s top wine experts ‘blown away’ by English wine and British gin

The world’s top wine experts were taken on a tour and tasting to highlight the best of British gin and English wine, while visiting London for two international conferences last week.

It was the first time at the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) had held a meeting in the UK, prompting the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to show the rest of the world what Britain does best.

In a bid to bring to life the excellent quality of the UK’s home-grown wine and spirits delegates from the WWTG and FIVS broke from their meetings to take part in a study day at an English vineyard and gin distillery and bar.

Bridging meetings of FIVS on Monday and Tuesday and WWTG later in the week the Wine and Spirit Trade Association took delegates first to Rathfinny Estate and winery in Sussex and then on to Chapel Down’s newly opened Gin Works in Kings Cross.

During a tour of Rathfinny the guests, most of whom had never visited an English vineyard, were astounded at the scale of the investment in the estate and world class quality of the sparkling wines launched last year.

The tour was followed by a tasting and a lunch, of locally sourced foods, at the estate’s Flint Barns.  The whole experience allowed experts in the industry and Government representatives from around the world to hear at first hand from Rathfinny’s co-owner Mark Driver his vision for establishing Rathfinny. 

After lunch it was back to London for a tutored spirit tasting hosted by wine, beer and spirit makers Chapel Down.

Chapel Down, whose winery and brewery are based in Kent, have recently ventured into spirit making and opened a distillery, bar and restaurant overlooking the canal in London’s Kings Cross.

Guests sampled two new gins both distilled from grape skins, and one vodka, followed by a glass of Chapel Downs’s English sparkling wine before delegates sat down to a dinner.

The range and quality of Chapel Down’s products served in its state-of-the-art restaurant and bar proved an impressive way to end the day.

Simon Stannard, European and International Affairs Director at the WSTA, said:

“With London hosting two international meetings we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to show off the very best of British.  Many of the delegates attending the FIVS and WWTG meetings, while experienced industry players, had never visited an English vineyard, so this was the perfect opportunity to show them a great British success. 

Delegates were blown away by the quality of the wines at both Rathfinny and Chapel Down as they were with the unique gins on offer at Chapel Down’s Gin Works.  Industry experts, from France, Ukraine, Georgia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, USA, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland were equally impressed with the ambition of both Chapel Down and Rathfinny to promote wine and spirit tourism by offering unique experiences at both venues. 

It was also a great opportunity to highlight the importance of maintaining the UK at the very heart of the world wine trade.”

The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wine and the world’s largest exporter of spirits. Many of the producers from WWTG countries have chosen the UK as their central distribution hub for northern Europe.

The event gave the WSTA a platform to explain to international Government officials and producers the importance of maintaining the UK at the heart of the world’s wine trade. And to discuss practical solutions to keep wine flowing into the UK and beyond after Brexit.

The WSTA last year launched its #NoToNoDeal Campaign - www.dontbottleit.co.uk, which sets out exactly why passing a deal with the EU is so crucial to the prospects of the UK’s world leading wine and spirit industry.

UK wine inspectors will be left drowning in paperwork if Britain crashes out of the EU

A no deal Brexit will mean UK wine businesses have to jump through hoops to import wine into the UK with the introduction of new forms and laboratory test demands, the wine and spirit trade association warns.


Concerned officials from Whitehall are holding emergency meetings to discuss how to cope with the extra paperwork which is anticipated to treble their work load overnight.


Costly new form filling will result in an estimated additional £70 million bill for the wine trade. When added to wine duty hikes, enforced by the Chancellor earlier this month, as well as the introduction of wine tariffs and rising inflation - a no deal Brexit will mean UK wine consumers face a budget busting rise in prices.


Any wine entering the EU from outside countries has to be accompanied by a VI-1 form. If Britain falls out of the EU without a deal an estimated 500,000 new VI-1 forms, all accompanied by a lab test, will be required to keep wine flowing in from Europe.


Wine leaving the UK for the EU will also have to complete a VI-1 form - meaning an estimated additional 150,000 forms which will put a strain on wine exports, the UK’s 6th most valuable food and drink export.


Each form comes at a price – estimated to be around £20 per two-page document – which has to be filled out by hand.


Under the current system, as a member of the EU, the UK has access to the EU’s Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) which tracks alcohol coming in and going out of the country documenting consignments electronically.


EMCS allows all alcohol categories to and from the EU to be moved on with no extra checks of costs. However, a no deal Brexit will mean the UK loses EMCS which is likely to see ports descend into chaos.


The new regime outside of the EU will mean European wine producers will have to pay to fill out a form and on top of that cough up for extra laboratory tests for every consignment of wine sent to the UK, no matter how big or small.


The industry’s ties with the EU run deep – 55% of wine consumed in the UK is imported from the EU.


The burden, particularly on small wine producers that often stock independent wine merchants, is likely to be too great and in some cases wine supplies from smaller vineyards into the UK are expected to dry up.


But the extra form filling won’t just leave the wine industry with a headache, UK wine inspectors will find themselves drowning in processing the paperwork.


Every handwritten VI-1 form will have to be scrutinised and stamped before wine from Europe is allowed into the UK.


It is estimated that it would take 12 full time wine inspectors a whole year to process the half a million new VI-1 forms expected to mount up after a no deal Brexit. This does not take into account the other work carried out by Wine Standards who currently consist of a team of six regional inspectors.


Defra, which has overall responsibility for the movement of food and wine products, is working with the wine standards board and the WSTA on how to tackle the onslaught of added red tape.


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


“The additional form filling and laboratory tests required for a no deal scenario will come as a real blow to exporters and importers alike. Wine inspectors will find themselves drowning in paperwork and - unless they can double their workforce - wine consignments are going to be held up by unnecessary additional red tape. The reality is that if we leave the EU without a deal wine businesses, big and small, will be facing a catalogue of extra costs which will ultimately be passed onto the British consumer.”


According to the latest figures from a report by EY, wine duty contributes £7.8 billion to public purse and the wine industry supports 189,000 UK jobs.


The WSTA has been advising members for over a year that they should increase their stock by 20% as a starting point in case of a no deal Brexit.


Advice which has been headed by many UK wine businesses including Direct Wines who are bringing in an additional 2 million bottles, about a 40% increase, on their usual stock. Bibendum PLB (as part of C&C) who say they have developed a “robust Brexit plan” which will see them ordering “significant” extra wine to have ready in stock. Majestic Wine also reported last year that they will hold another 1.5 million more bottles of European wine as part of emergency planning.


This month the WSTA repeated it’s call on Government for a temporary suspension on all wine tariffs until the end of 2020 in the event of a no deal which would massively reduce the strain on the supply chain. WSTA also called on the Government to review urgently the proposed import rules, including documentation, and to seek agreement from the EU to have continued access to EMCS.


It is also calling for fairer duty rates as wine was singled out at the last Budget for a duty rise when spirits and beer were given a freeze.


The WSTA last year launched its #NoToNoDeal Campaign - www.dontbottleit.co.uk, which sets out exactly why passing a deal with the EU is so crucial to the prospects of the UK’s world leading wine and spirit industry.

Mother’s ruin has proven itself to be Mother’s favourite

Gin sales spike in the run up to Mother’s Day proving that the spirit once dubbed ‘Mother’s ruin’ is now a go to gift for mum.

Previously unpublished figures show that sales of gin in the first quarter of the last two years all peak in March, in the run up to Mothering Sunday.

Between January and March 2017 gin sold in UK supermarket and shops reached 6.4 million bottles of which 2.6 million, 41%, of those bottles were sold in the month of March.

Last year during the same 12-week period 9 million bottles of gin were sold of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those flew off our shelves in March.

Sales of alcohol are traditionally slow in the first three months of the year, compared to the summer and the festive season, however there is a noticeable spike in sales in March according to data providers Nielsen.

The WSTA’s Market Report out this week reveals gin hit another record high last year with the juniper-based spirit breaking £2 billion in annual sales for the first time. 

The latest figures show that sales of gin over the 12-week Christmas period (up to 29/12/2018) were up 40% on the same period last year. 

During the whole of 2018 Brits bought over 73 million bottles of gin, breaking all previous records, with sales worth £2.1 billion.

Add this to the latest value of British gin exports and the quintessentially British spirit was worth over £2.7 billion for the whole of 2018.

There are now hundreds of different gin brands to choose from, using a huge range of different botanicals and in the last year a surge of pink gins entering the market. 

Two years ago only a handful of brands were making flavoured gin, then last year the category was valued at £165 million, up a whopping 751% on the same period the previous year.

In 2018 HMRC records showed that the number of distilleries in England overtook distilleries registered in Scotland for the first time.

There are a total of 361 distilleries making spirits in the UK, with 54 opening in 2018 – the equivalent of one a week. 166 distilleries are in England, 160 in Scotland, 19 in Wales and 16 in Northern Ireland.

Spirit makers expect to see more bottles sold in March in 2019 than ever before along with a range of gin experiences and gin accessories.

This Mother’s Day Brits can buy a wide range of gin related gifts including vouchers for gin tours and gin spa experiences, crystal personalized gin glasses, botanical infusion bags for gin, ‘make your own’ gin kits, gin truffles, gin glass charms, gin candles and gin jam. 

Gin makers are also offering personalised gin gift wrapping. One company providing the service is Pickering’s Gin based in Edinburgh.

Marcus Pickering a co-founder of Pickering’s Gin said: 

“We feel Gin is so popular for Mother’s Day as people like to give their mothers something they really want. After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mum’s really want is Gin.

In terms of a global thirst for British products, distilling in Britain - and Scotland specifically has become world renowned for producing high quality products. As the first gin distillery in Edinburgh in over 150 years we are proud to provide that top quality, exceptional gin.”

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

“The truly staggering rise in gin sales shows that British gin is gaining more and more fans by the day. And we fully expect to see sales rise again in March this year, just as they did last year. The latest expression of the UK's fastest growing spirit - pink gin - is one of the 'go to' gifts for Mother’s Day. It's high time gin's new status and reputation were celebrated and supported by Government, which should be offering more support for British gin exports and a less taxing duty regime, both of which fail to support our entrepreneurial and innovative distillers.”

 

Gin sales spike in the run up to Mother’s Day proving that the spirit once dubbed ‘Mother’s ruin’ is now a go to gift for mum.

Previously unpublished figures show that sales of gin in the first quarter of the last two years all peak in March, in the run up to Mothering Sunday.

Between January and March 2017 gin sold in UK supermarket and shops reached 6.4 million bottles of which 2.6 million, 41%, of those bottles were sold in the month of March.

Last year during the same 12-week period 9 million bottles of gin were sold of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those flew off our shelves in March.

Sales of alcohol are traditionally slow in the first three months of the year, compared to the summer and the festive season, however there is a noticeable spike in sales in March according to data providers Nielsen.

The WSTA’s Market Report out this week reveals gin hit another record high last year with the juniper-based spirit breaking £2 billion in annual sales for the first time.

The latest figures show that sales of gin over the 12-week Christmas period (up to 29/12/2018) were up 40% on the same period last year.

During the whole of 2018 Brits bought over 73 million bottles of gin, breaking all previous records, with sales worth £2.1 billion.

Add this to the latest value of British gin exports and the quintessentially British spirit was worth over £2.7 billion for the whole of 2018.

There are now hundreds of different gin brands to choose from, using a huge range of different botanicals and in the last year a surge of pink gins entering the market.

Two years ago only a handful of brands were making flavoured gin, then last year the category was valued at £165 million, up a whopping 751% on the same period the previous year.

In 2018 HMRC records showed that the number of distilleries in England overtook distilleries registered in Scotland for the first time.

There are a total of 361 distilleries making spirits in the UK, with 54 opening in 2018 – the equivalent of one a week. 166 distilleries are in England, 160 in Scotland, 19 in Wales and 16 in Northern Ireland.

Spirit makers expect to see more bottles sold in March in 2019 than ever before along with a range of gin experiences and gin accessories.

This Mother’s Day Brits can buy a wide range of gin related gifts including vouchers for gin tours and gin spa experiences, crystal personalized gin glasses, botanical infusion bags for gin, ‘make your own’ gin kits, gin truffles, gin glass charms, gin candles and gin jam.

Gin makers are also offering personalised gin gift wrapping. One company providing the service is Pickering’s Gin based in Edinburgh.

Marcus Pickering a co-founder of Pickering’s Gin said:

We feel Gin is so popular for Mother’s Day as people like to give their mothers something they really want. After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mum’s really want is Gin.

In terms of a global thirst for British products, distilling in Britain - and Scotland specifically has become world renowned for producing high quality products. As the first gin distillery in Edinburgh in over 150 years we are proud to provide that top quality, exceptional gin.”

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

“The truly staggering rise in gin sales shows that British gin is gaining more and more fans by the day. And we fully expect to see sales rise again in March this year, just as they did last year. The latest expression of the UK's fastest growing spirit - pink gin - is one of the 'go to' gifts for Mother’s Day. It's high time gin's new status and reputation were celebrated and supported by Government, which should be offering more support for British gin exports and a less taxing duty regime, both of which fail to support our entrepreneurial and innovative distillers.”

WSTA welcomes Government consultation on UK recycling

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association welcome’s the Government’s consultation on how best to improve bottle recycling in the UK.

However, the WSTA does not believe glass should be included in the DRS scheme and argues that kerbside collection is better for the consumer, businesses and the environment.

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

“We welcome the Government’s intention to tackle waste and improve recycling.

The UK wine and spirit industry has, for some years now, been working hard - and successfully - to reduce its impact on the environment, for example by shipping in bulk and using substantially less glass in its bottles. These sorts of changes have made a significant impact, and the UK already exceeds glass recycling targets - about 70% of glass packaging in the UK is recycled against a target of only 60%.

We remain unconvinced that glass drinks containers should be included within the scope of the proposed DRS scheme. Glass must be treated differently to plastic - glass cannot be compacted safely and efficiently, unlike plastic, and broken glass is much more likely to cause injury.

The reality is that following years of investment in recycling, councils across the UK already have well-established, trusted and efficient doorstep recycling schemes. Changes to this system, which could instead see consumers themselves burdened with returning glass bottles to point of purchase, are unnecessary. Changes would also pose storage issues for retailers, especially SMEs. Many nations across the world have excluded glass from their DRS systems in favour of kerbside collection, a system that is already working well in the UK.

Including glass in any DRS system would serve only to undermine existing recycling schemes, and would be highly likely to undermine achievements to date. 

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