Record number of bottles of UK wine on market in 2017

A record number of bottles of still and sparkling wine from UK vineyards reached the market last year - up 64% on 2016, figures show.

Red wine
Red wine

HMRC figures show that 3.86 million bottles of UK-made wine were released for sale last year, up from 2016’s 2.36 million bottles.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said the English wine industry was reaping the benefits from a “huge” investment in the sector, leading to an increase in vines planted over the last decade.

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

WSTA said last year’s figures were the result of a bumper 2014 harvest for English vineyards, and the release of special edition and older vintage wines by several producers.

Next month Rathfinny Wine Estate in Sussex will launch its sparkling Blanc de Blancs after bottling its first wine in May 2015.

The estate said it aimed to eventually reach production of more than 80,000 cases by 2025.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “English wine releases reached a record high in 2017 with more varietals and vintages available, giving consumers a greater choice than ever before.

“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: “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 for the area under vine to reach over 3,000 hectares by 2020 from 2,200 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.