Sales of English wines have been on the rise in recent years, with sales bolstered not only by the increase in demand from Brits for home-grown wines but also for the boom in wine tourism, where people are keen to explore local gastronomy and experience the vineyards themselves. Now, people are seeking wines directly from vineyards and exploring what English wines have to offer the market. But what is it about English wines that has made them so popular, now more than ever?
The boom of English wines
English sparkling wine has become a thriving business in the UK, producing world-class wines that rival leading Champagne brands along with wine exports from New York and California. In fact, it’s rare to find someone in the industry who hasn’t heard of the delectable English sparkling wine.
English wine has become a key player in the agricultural industry in Britain, with thousands of people employed in the industry from winemakers to cellar door staff. It’s expected that over the next couple of decades, the British wine industry will create up to 30,000 new jobs. It’s also boosted the tourism industry here, with more residents looking to explore local vineyards.
Why are English wines on the rise?
The geology of Britain makes it ideally suited to producing delicious wines, especially sparkling wine. There’s rolling hills and chalky soils, along with a temperate climate that enables grapes to thrive for premium wines. The longer, milder summers allow grapes to ripen slowly for a fuller flavour.
English wines are comparable with champagne, with a similar climate to the region and complex flavours produces from vineyards around England. And it’s something that more and more high profile people are choosing now, from receptions at Number 10 Downing Street to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding reception.
The expertise found in vineyards in Great Britain has been a big contributor to the growth of the industry, with English vineyards consistently winning awards and competing with big players from the likes of Italy, France and Spain. British wine consumptions has increased in recent years, and the number of vines planted reflects that, with a record 3.2 million vines planted in 2019 alone.
It’s a drink that can be enjoyed on all occasions from dinner at home to weddings and corporate events, feeling more accessible than the likes of Champagne. The industry shows no signs of slowing down, with British consumers enjoying homegrown wines more and more every year. And since the pandemic, when people were encouraged to shop local to support independent businesses, the number of wineries making a success of their businesses has increased considerably, in spite of the circumstances.
Where to find British wines
There are well over 150 wineries across England, Wales and Scotland, with the best wines to sample including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Muenier and Bacchus. These wines accounts for over 76% of all plantings in the UK. Many of the commercial vineyards in England are found in Sussex and Kent, and along the southern counties as the temperature here is milder and well-suited to growing flavourful grapes.
The vineyards here are often open to tourism and visitors, and as passionate businesses with a desire to teach people about the complexity of wine, they’re unique places to visit with an opportunity to learn more about the local wine production and history of wines. Researchers at the University of East Anglia have identified over 80,000 acres of UK land that’s suitable for viticulture, which requires land that has an elevation of less than 100m, and south-facing slops between 5-10% gradient as any higher and businesses can’t use machinery but any flatter comes with the risk of frost.
While we often think of France or Italy as the leading locations for wine in Europe, Britain is rising in the ranks increasingly every year. With the right climate and geology, it’s no surprise that more businesses are taking the leap into this industry and seeing huge success. The wine revolution that Britain has experienced in recent years has been in large part created by the producers themselves, by focusing on traditional winemaking techniques and creating state-of-the-art wineries that create English wine that is high quality and rivals other producers.