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English and Welsh wine exports soar despite pandemic disruption

Published:  07 September, 2021

Exports of English and Welsh wine – both still and sparkling – have risen dramatically over the past 12 months, despite the on-going challenges of the Covid pandemic.

Encouragingly, sales rose by 51% in the period, with Scandinavia now accounting for 63% of all exports.

According to Wine GB, sparkling wine exports climbed by 33%, while there was a 501% growth in the shipments of still wine, with still wine sales now representing 17% of total exports – a figure that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago.

Indeed, still wines are becoming a more lucrative and important part of the British viticultural landscape.

Earlier this year, Hampshire-based winery Black Chalk released their inaugural still wine – a pale rosé called 'Dancer in Pink'. It joined a growing firmament of still wines produced from English terroir, including Gusbourne's Pinor Noir and Simpson Estate's 'Railway Hill'.

“The ‘vintage of the century’ 2018 was the year we first produced a still Pinot Noir. This wine was created from first crop (three year old) Pinot Noir vines on our Railway Hill block,” said Simpsons Wine Estate owner Ruth Simpson.

“We have planted more Pinot Noir in order to ensure an annual minimum quantity.”

As it stands today, UK-made wine is sold in 30 export markets, albeit the top 10 destinations represent 92% of total shipments. 

Wine GB's latest press briefing, which took place this morning at its live tasting, indicated that total sales of wine rose by 30% in 2020 to reach 7.1 million bottles.

There was strong growth in direct-to-consumer sales in particular: 50% of wine is now sold through winery websites and via the cellar door.

Yesterday, Simon Thorpe, CEO of Wine GB, said continued plantings across England and Wales were expected to insulate the growing England and Welsh wine industry against climate issues and smaller-than-usual crop sizes.