New markets add to fizz of English sparkling wine exports

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English sparkling wine exports are fizzing, with several new markets added to the list of destinations in 2016, according to producers.

The number of markets importing sparkling wines grew by a third over the last 12 months, trade figures show.

Producers have also secured contracts with some of the world's most exclusive restaurants and hotels such as the Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the Ritz in London, while the UK collected 120 medals at this year's International Wine Challenge, the International Wine and Spirit Competition and Decanter World Wine Awards, the industry said.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said that with major producers on track to deliver a 10-fold increase in exports: "Our vintners are set for huge success in 2017 with wineries growing and more bottles on supermarket shelves."

Chalky soils, south-facing slopes and warm temperatures mean conditions are ideal for producing wine in parts of the UK and the industry now boasts sales of around £100 million a year.

Growing demand has led to land under vine doubling over the last 10 years, with 30 vineyards opening in the last two years alone.

It has also sparked interest from champagne producers in France with Taittinger buying land in Kent in 2015.

English Wine Producers chairman Simon Robinson said: "It's boom time for English wines. The growing trend on the high street shows the retailers have really got behind them and the wine consumers of Britain are responding.

"Our export sales are also on the up, with new markets opening up around the world. We're looking forward to even more wines coming on to the market next year."

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale said: "As we always expected, the word has spread and English wine is now internationally recognised as a premium quality product and very much in demand.

"The WSTA were proud to lead the first ever English wine roundtable in March 2016 when the major producers committed to ambitious targets of increasing exports tenfold to 2.5 million bottles by 2020. It is fantastic to hear we are well on our way to achieving this."

New markets for English sparkling wine in 2016 included Austria, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, China, Italy, Ivory Coast, Spain, Taiwan and UEA, according to English Wine Producers.

These were in addition to existing markets of Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Macau, South Africa, Switzerland, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Sweden and USA.