UK wine industry adding 'sparkle' as new vineyards open up
The UK's wine industry has had a corking few years, with scores of new producers and vineyards opening, a new study has shown.
There were 37 newcomers last year, taking the total to almost 200 new producers in the past five years, said accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.
The expansion has been driven by high quality English wines, which are increasingly winning recognition internationally, said the report.
James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: "In recent years the wine industry has gone from strength to strength, and customers are now opting for English wines over French or Italian products, which 20 years ago would have been seen as a joke.
"Products like English sparkling wine have now firmly established themselves at the same table as products such as prosecco or champagne.
"Many English vineyards do a lot more than produce wine, which can make them very profitable businesses. They are diversifying to offer tastings and tours, have restaurants, rooms for overnight guests and can even be a venue for weddings and other events."
Waitrose said its wine sales are on the up.
Customers are often choosing home-grown varieties, the supermarket said, leading to a 14% rise year on year of still English wines, and a 12% increase in sparkling wine in favour of French and Italian rivals.
Waitrose wine buyer Becky Hull said English Wine Week, which began on Saturday, draws attention to the growing range of local wines available.
She said: "We're proud to stock the widest range of English wine in a supermarket. We continue to introduce wines from new English vineyards for our customers to experiment and enjoy.
"English Wine Week is important to mark the growing industry and many of the English wines we stock come from small beginnings, so we are really proud to be so closely involved in the English wine industry at such an exciting time."