Grape Expectations

English wine is a segment on the up, with a burgeoning reputation for offering high quality as the wines have won a range of prestigious awards, helping to attract increasing numbers of users. While the UK continues to feature well down the list of leading wine-producing countries, English vineyard hectarage has risen by approximately 60% in just five years, however, this still sees the production at a decidedly niche 3 million bottles in 2011 according to the Wine Standards Branch.

In 2011, value sales of English wine were estimated to be up by over 50% to around the £25 million mark, with volumes increasing by approximately 30%. While it is expected that growth will slow a little in the coming years, it is clear that the segment is one on the up, in line with consumer’s impressions of English wines.

Wine drinkers appear to opening up to wines from newer wine-producing countries, with almost three quarters (72%) of UK wine buyers agreeing that they like to try wines from many different countries. English wines could be one of the leading beneficiaries of this increasing open-mindedness, with some 56% of wine buyers now more open to trying English wine than in the past.

However, despite the general level of enthusiasm, three in five (60%) Brits who buy wine would like to see a better selection of English wines in-store, highlighting the fact that limited mainstream availability remains an issue. This problem is also relevant in the on-trade, where only a minority of venues have given serious thought to stocking a good range of English wines.

In terms of the off-trade, brands and retailers should benefit from helping consumers to identify them, such as with a better-signposted section of the wine fixture for English wines. With favourite grape type the third most popular factor when choosing wine, brands may also benefit from highlighting this on the labelling, with the majority of English plantings being either the popular Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes.

 

English wine consumption

 

Moreover, there has been growing clamour for English wines to adopt a unique name to make them immediately identifiable. While a generic catch-all term like Prosecco or Cava may help, this risks pigeonholing English producers as only making one type of wine (sparkling). As well as looking to develop a range of types, English wines may see greater benefit by taking cues from other markets such as beer and cider which have taken identifiability even further, with the likes of Arundel Brewery’s range of craft beers and Aspall Suffolk Cyder highlighting a regional provenance in a bid to build a unique identity. Adopting a similar approach and using terms such as Sussex Wine or North Downs Wine could arguably give English wines a specific identity, also tapping into the popularity of craft drinks.

 

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