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‘Dream’ growing season for UK producers

Published:  02 September, 2018

UK wine producers have experienced a ‘dream growing season’ on the back of the hot summer weather.

With predicted high yields of fruit and more acreage coming in to production, the 2018 harvest is shaping up to be a record-breaking year, according to WineGB.

The harvest, which started last week - an average of two weeks early, marked one of the earliest on record, it said, adding the whole wine industry was excited about the potential this harvest brought.

“It will probably lead to the highest level of production ever. Growing conditions across the country have been ideal and this shows in both excellent quality and high yield,” said Simon Robinson, chairman of WineGB and owner of Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley.

The positive outlook was “very welcome” as sales of wine continue to rise rapidly, both domestically and overseas, he added.

“The wine industry is a bright star in the UK agricultural sector which is concerned about the post-Brexit world. The wine producers of Great Britain are looking forward to the future with increasing confidence and 2018 looks to be a very welcome harvest, although as many have commented, nobody counts on anything until the grapes are safely in tank or barrel,” he said.

In addition, there was also a positive outlook for this year’s vintage amongst Welsh producers, with Robb Merchant, owner of White Castle Vineyard and chairman of the Welsh Vineyards Association, predicting his largest harvest since his first vintage in 2011.

“We’re expecting to start harvesting some of our early-ripening varieties on 9 September, two weeks earlier than last year and a month earlier than average. The grapes are looking very clean and we’re confident that the quality will be excellent,” he said, adding many producers had reported earlier harvest dates and large crops.

The anticipated large harvest comes at a time of unprecedented growth for the wine industry of Great Britain, with the hectarage of vines planted doubling in the past ten years and tripling since 2000.

In the last two years alone, more than 2.5 million vines have been planted in England and Wales.

Earlier this year, WineGB set out its growth predictions for the industry over the next decades, indicating that by 2040 annual bottle production will reach around 40 million bottles.