5th September, 2019 by Phoebe French

The figure for the number of bottles produced in Britain in 2018 has been revised, falling from 15.6 million to 13.2 million – the official figure which has been published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

English and Welsh wine 2018 production figure decreased by 2.4m bottlesThe new figure was announced yesterday (4 September) at the WineGB trade tasting in London by chairman Simon Robinson. Commenting on why the figures were different, he said that those released back in February this year had been “based on early indications” and “a survey of our members”.

He added: “The figure of 13.2m bottles is the official figure published by DEFRA from data gathered by the Wine Standards Branch (Food Standards Agency). There are a number of reasons why the figures may differ, but we are not in a position to comment on the differences, as for reasons of commercial confidentiality, we do not have access to the raw data.”

This means that 2018 beat the previous record year (6.3 million bottles in 2014) by 6.9 million bottles, rather than 9.3 million as originally stated.

The figures also revealed that still wine production is increasing with the industry now being split 69% fizz vs 31% still wine.

Also revealed was that individual vineyard numbers have now risen to 794, with a total of 31 in Wales, 92 in East Anglia, 185 in the south west, 341 in the south east and 145 in the rest of the UK. The south east therefore has 76% of the vines planted in the UK, with vines covering 2,720 hectares.

A total of three million vines are expected to be planted in 2019, with the total area under vine currently totalling 3,579 hectares.

The top four varieties remain Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Meunier and Bacchus, with the first two being particularly dominant, representing 29.7% and 28.9% of the vines planted respectively.

Also of note was that export sales doubled in terms of their share of total sales. They rose from representing 4% of total sales in 2017 to 8% in 2018, equating to over 200,000 bottles worth £7 million. WineGB said this means that the industry was well on its way to achieving its target of £350 million worth of exports by 2040.

The top four export markets are the US (22%), Norway (18%), Denmark (12%) and Sweden (10%).

The new report also drew attention to the increase in wine tourism, and specifically the launch of dedicated, producer-led groups which target tourism, including the Wine Garden of England, Wine Trail Wales, and the Vineyards of the Surrey Hills.

Currently 86% of people visiting British vineyards are from the UK, while 14% are from abroad.

Looking ahead, WineGB is working on several projects for example Cellar Door Relief, a scheme to be implemented post-Brexit, and a new PDO/OGI system required on departure from the European Union.