Top Facts: English & Welsh Wines in 600 Words
Wine from Great Britain, and from England in particular, is growing in popularity and is increasingly recognized as a premium wine-producing region.
Here’s how Jancis Robinson MW introduces English wine in the Oxford Companion to Wine: “England, the largest and warmest country in Great Britain, and the only one which produces wine in any quantity, albeit minuscule relative to most of European wine-producing countries.”
Still, England has been making more and more wine, knowing a spectacular growth in vineyard surface area and subsequently in wine production over the past decade.
What You Should know about UK Wine in Video
The Spectacular Growth of English Wine
The area under vine in Great Britain has increased by 160% in the past 10 years to reach 7,000 acres (2,888ha). appellation 3000 hectares: Savoie, Sonoma Coast AVA
Whilst vineyards are found across the whole of England and even in Whales, the climate of the South and South East makes it a particularly popular region for growing vines, especially in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
A total of 15.6 million bottles were produced last year (2018), beating the previous record (6.3 million bottles in 2014) by 9.3 million bottles.
Exports of GB wine have also doubled in the past year (2018) and English and Welsh wines are now exported to 40 different countries, up from 27 in 2016.
In 2018, 1.6 million vines were planted with a further 2 million expected in 2019.
The industry has known a 31% increase in sales between 2015 and 2017 alone!
Vineyards in England and Whales now cover a 2,554-hectare area (6,380 acres), with a 15% increase since 2015. Notably, in 2017, a record 1 million vines were planted in the UK. The ancient Romans probably never got this far…
While the figures have not yet been analyzed for the 2018 vintage, in general sparkling wine remains the dominant style, representing nearly 70% of the wine produced in the UK.
This spectacular growth has been enabled by several factors: global warming, significant investments in the sector, increase in quality and growing demand.
Key Facts about English Wine Production
Bacchus is a German white grape variety that is perhaps most notable for the production in England of crisp white wines, showing grapey, elderflower and citrus characters.
The climate near the South Eastern coast of England where most of the wineries are located is influenced, warmed up in fact by the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current bringing heat through the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean.
The main producing areas and counties in England are Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire.
The soil there is limestone-rich and chalky, comparable, and rather similar in fact to those of Champagne explaining the refinement featured in many English sparklings in particular.
There were 147 wineries in total as in 2017 in Whales and England combined, employing about 2,100 full-time staff.
Some of the famous producers include:
As for the consumption, 4% only of the production of UK wine is dedicated to the export markets at this stage. Those are primarily the United States, Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, and Finland), and Japan.
As expected, since the British are renown and historic wine enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs, and wine drinkers: 96% of the English & Welsh wine-consumption is domestic.
Watch How Good English Wine Can Be in Video
Related Read about English Sparkling Wines by Denbies
Useful resources about English & Welsh Wines, some of them used in this article
Some of the latest stats and inductry data reports: thedrinksbusiness.com
A little dated by solid article by Decanter, an England-based wine magazine: decanter.com