Britain’s wine industry is booming. With record-breaking harvests and doubled sales last year, the British wine industry has quietly become one of the fastest-growing in the world. With global wine production reaching a historic high in 2018, the future of English sparkling wine looks bright. We look at how British wine got so big.
The boom of British wine
If you’re searching for a quality bottle of wine, you no longer have to look further than UK shores. Business is thriving, with a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles produced in 2018. That’s 130% higher than the previous year’s crop.
Around a decade ago, English wine was largely unknown in the international industry. Today, the British wine industry is producing world-class wines and their main exports are New York, California and Texas.
Around 69% of British wines are sparkling, and it’s rare to find someone in the industry who hasn’t heard of the delicate English sparkling wine.
A new survey released by Wines of Great Britain (Wine GB) and Wine Intelligence has shown that the UK wine industry is growing on all fronts. Acreage has tripled since 2000, with over 550 vineyards and 7,000 acres under vine. Great Britain will plant another two million vines this year.
With around 70,00 acres of land that’s suitable for wine production, the UK should produce 40 million bottles annually in the next two decades.
British wine has become an important player in Britain’s agricultural industry. There are 2,000 people employed in the wine industry, from winemakers to cellar door staff. The industry is expected to create between 20,000 and 30,000 new jobs within the next 20 years.
English vineyards are also boosting tourism, with more UK residents opting to explore their own country. As the wine lands of Britain become hot spots for food, drink and sightseeing, they’ve also attracted an increasing number of foreign tourists.
Why is English wine on the rise?
In the last few years, British winemakers have combined growing expertise with ideal geography to create an in-demand wine.
With rolling hills and chalky soils, the English countryside is perfect for producing premium sparkling wine. Many counties in England are experiencing longer, milder summers. This allows the grapes to ripen slowly and produce more elegant and complex flavours in the wine.
English sparkling wine is often compared to champagne, and it’s no surprise. Many areas of Great Britain share the same climate and geography as the Champagne region in France. There are also several French champagne houses investing in vineyards across England.
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Further north in Wales, you’ll also find premium vineyards. Llanerch Vineyard, located just half an hour from Cardiff, produces award-winning sparkling wines.
Owner Ryan Davies tributes his family-owned wines to the cool Welsh climate. With the first vines planted back in 1986, it’s also the deep passion and knowledge that keeps the vineyard producing such exceptional wines.
This world-class expertise is found in vineyards across Great Britain and is a big contributor to the rise of British wine. English vineyards are consistently winning global awards, even when competing against wine giants like France, Italy and Spain. These three countries alone are responsible for half of the world’s wine production.
English sparkling wine has also become more popular thanks to the prosecco boom in recent years. The consumption of sparkling wine has risen in the UK, with a record-breaking 164 million bottles consumed in 2018. Wine lovers are embracing sparkling wine as the favourite drink for all occasions, whether for celebrations or for enjoying at home.
Where to experience British wine?
You can find over 150 wineries across England, Wales and Scotland. The best wines to sample include Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Noir and Pinot Muenier, which account for 76% of all plantings.
When you travel Great Britain with Trafalgar, you’ll have the chance to visit Llanerch Vineyard. It’s the second oldest and largest commercial vineyard in Wales.
“When you get off the beaten track and visit the businesses that are passionate, you get something truly unique. It’s so different to anywhere else and definitely family-owned,” says owner Ryan Davies.
He encourages people from all over the world to enjoy excellent food and wine, and “come together to make memories that will last forever”.
When you visit Llanerch, you’ll tour the beautiful vineyard and learn the history, all while sipping on a glass of their Cariad sparkling wine. You’ll then sit down to a hearty meal of seasonal produce, like Usk river salmon or Welsh lamb.
With plenty of chances to sample the Llanerch’s finest wines, you’ll quickly understand why British wine is booming.
Visiting the Llanerch Vineyard and meeting owner Ryan Davies, is a Be My Guest experience exclusive to Trafalgar. Learn more about this unique opportunity by watching the video below, and discover more Be My Guest stories by heading to our YouTube channel.