Estate diversIfication: CLA members driving the English wine trend
To celebrate English Wine Week 2022 and find out about wine as a form of estate diversification, we speak to some CLA members who are involved in the rapidly growing English wine market.
There is undoubtedly a growing buzz around English wine today as more vineyards and wineries are emerging up and down the country. What’s more, English wineries are earning greater recognition at a global level for their exceptional taste and quality, meaning demand is on the up. This is particularly the case in Scandinavia – where the market for English wine has seen extraordinary growth during the last year. It now represents 63% of all English wine exports.
Notably, Sussex wineries have made headlines recently as the county has been designated as a Protected Destination of Origin (PDO) for wine by the environment secretary. This means that wines produced in Sussex have a similar status to those produced in the Champagne and Rioja regions of France and Spain.
In celebration of English Wine Week 2022, an online campaign week which aims to encourage people to get to know English wines and to shop locally, we speak to CLA members Ridgeview in Sussex and Dunesforde Vineyard in Yorkshire to find out more about the appeal of English wines.
Ridgeview is one of the leaders in the English sparkling wine revolution in Sussex, crafting classic method sparkling wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier since 1995. Established by Mike and Chris Roberts near the picturesque village of Ditchling, this second-generation family business was crowned Global Winemaker of the Year ‘International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018 and No. 36 in the ‘Top 50 Worlds’ Best Vineyards’– firsts for English wine.
The vineyard is situated in the beautiful South Downs where visitors can drink in the fabulous view that gives Ridgeview its name. Ridgeview’s wines are now enjoyed around the globe.
Best-selling product: Ridgeview Bloomsbury NV
We spoke to Mardi Roberts of Ridgeview to find out more.
What is the season looking like so far?
We can never declare how well our harvest will be until the grapes are safely in the press. As we all know weather in our variable climate can be unpredictable, however so far so good. We got through spring without any risk of frost damage and we are about to embark on our next critical period of flowering and the weather is looking good. So far, we are on track for a great year but we still have a while to get to the finish line in late September and early October.
Why is English wine becoming more popular?
Since Ridgeview was established over a quarter of a century ago, our industry has come on leaps and bounds in terms of quality and investment. We needed to prove to the world that England was capable of producing globally acclaimed sparkling wine and winning trophies has helped amplify just what we are capable of doing.
Now that we have proven the quality, it is great to see the consumer embracing English wine and now actually demanding to see it in restaurants and on the shelves of wine shops and supermarkets.
What does the future of English wine look like, and what are your hopes for the industry?
The future is very exciting, as one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the world in the past 10 years, with production getting up to eight million bottles annually. The next most exciting development is tourism as the English wine, and international visitors realise what a fantastic visitor experience is on our doorstep.
Our family are very proud to have our wines served at a collection of Royal occasions, including to former US President Barack Obama at Buckingham Palace and to the Worlds Global Leaders at COP 26 in Glasgow.
Our family moto is found written in the neck foil of every bottle: ‘Life is for Celebrating’.