British winemakers produce record 15.6 million bottles last year

British winemakers produced a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles last year, a 130% increase on the year before, a survey has confirmed.

Last summer’s high temperatures boosted the bumper harvest but Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) said it predicted further substantial growth as a result of the ongoing proliferation of vineyards.

The figures show the recent rapid expansion of production, rising from 6.3 million bottles in 2014 and 5.9 million in 2017, with small fluctuations in between largely due to the effect of weather.

WineGB, who conducted the survey of the UK industry, said acreage under vine had tripled since 2000, growing 13% last year.

Some 1.6 million vines were planted last year amounting to more than 1,000 acres, with a further two million set to be planted this year.

According to industry predictions, British producers would be heading towards 40 million bottles a year in the next 20 years, leading to the creation of an extra 20,000 to 30,000 new jobs, WineGB said.

The arrival in recent years of two Champagne houses, Taittinger in Kent and Pommery in Hampshire, was a “firm endorsement” for the future of the industry, it added.

WineGB chairman Simon Robinson said: “Our latest survey acknowledges 2018 as a milestone year for the industry.

“Our figures detail the considerable pace of growth taking place here in the UK and what exciting predictions and opportunities lie in the future.

“As a sector, we are bringing many developments in agriculture, tourism, education, investment and employment. This is now a thriving and confident British industry in which we can be justifiably proud.”

Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said: “It’s extremely exciting that in 2018 UK wine makers have produced volumes that near-triple the number of bottles made the previous year.

“This is down to the gutsy English and Welsh wine businesses and all those investing in them to grow vineyards, create fantastic wines rivalling the best in the world and develop amazing places to visit. These ambitious wine makers are reaping the rewards of years of hard graft and the industry looks set to continue to blossom.

“Last summer’s record heatwave provided near perfect grape growing conditions and a bumper harvest with UK winemakers predicting that when it starts being released, 2018 is likely to prove a vintage year. This will be vital to maintaining the reputation of English and Welsh wine as it grows – including its exports.”

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