UK Fizz marketing English sparkling and British still wines

Can the English Wine industry build while France spends €200m destroying its wine?

As the French government prepares to spend €200m on destroying its wine, [1] does England have an opportunity to grow? I don’t mean grow wines; I mean develop its appreciation and knowledge of the great wines England produces in this country.  Returning to England from the wine-growing region of the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada and working in the Wine Industry for Cellartek Supplies Ltd and Wines of British Columbia (formerly the British Columbia Wine Institute), we have spent considerable time the last two years exploring the UK’s towns, cities, restaurants, and bars, sampling as many local wines as possible. We have been intrigued by the British wine culture, its perception, and consumer education, or may I be bold enough to say – lack of it. There is so much room to develop the reach, respect, and consumption of the fantastic wines that are produced in this country.

“There is so much room to develop the reach, respect and consumption of fantastic English wines that apre produced in this country”

 – Scott Davis

I would love to request the UK government spend €200m on raising the profile of British Wines, but it is up to the UK public to change its attitude towards English wines. For a simple start, try them for the first time or try them again; wines change every season (to some, this fact may be shocking).

Here are a few points for English Wine to consider:

  1. Education and Awareness: Consumer education is crucial. Sadly, many people might not even be aware that the UK produces wine or that there is more diversity than Pinot Blanc and red. People know that the UK makes ‘some sparkling stuff’, and that is about it.  I would encourage any establishment that sells French, Spanish, Italian, or otherworldy wines to provide educational initiatives like workshops, tastings, and events highlighting the history, production process, and unique characteristics of British wines, which could significantly increase public interest and knowledge.
  2. Collaborations and Partnerships: We have been shocked by local restaurants, bars, and food establishments that have extensive wine menus with not a single bottle of English wine on them, even the restaurants that pride themselves on serving all local British food. We need to create a robust ecosystem that promotes British wines. I encourage restaurants to reach out to British wineries and form partnerships that could lead to curated wine-pairing menus, exclusive tasting events, and themed promotions that showcase the diversity and quality of UK wines.
  3. Promotion and Marketing: This is time-consuming and requires budget allocation. Investing in effective marketing strategies is vital to changing perceptions. Social media, blogs, and other digital platforms can help you reach a broader audience and tell the stories of local winemakers, their techniques, and the distinctive terroir contributing to the wines’ character. The UK does consume wine – approximately 20 litres per person per year [2]– a third as much as France, and you can head to your local supermarket and see the inventory on the shelves, but try to find the UK section! See also points 7 & 8. 
  4. Wine Tourism: I have worked in the Canadian wine tourism sector, and it works. Developing wine tourism in the UK can attract both domestic and international visitors. Establishing wine trails, tours of vineyards and wineries, and offering unique experiences like grape harvesting events can provide people with immersive insights into the wine production process. As a winery, you don’t have to do it alone; team up with other wineries in your area and provide multi-location tours and wine tastings. Let’s get people trying as many British Wines as possible first.
  5. Quality Control and Standards: Ensuring a high-quality standard in the production of British wines is paramount. Striving for consistency and excellence across different producers will contribute to a positive reputation and consumer trust. The National Association for the English and Welsh Wine Industry will strive to be the body and voice for establishing and advancing this.
  6. Support for Local Producers: The British are proud. We have Love British Food, the leading national campaign promoting British food. British wine culture can be nurtured by actively supporting local winemakers and vineyards. This could involve advocating for favourable regulations, grants, and initiatives to grow the industry.
  7. Wine Festivals and Events: MORE wine festivals and events dedicated to British wines, let us create excitement and a sense of community. Such gatherings provide a platform for consumers to explore, sample, compare and talk about a wide range of local wines in one place.
  8. Media Coverage and Influencer Engagement: Some people are incredibly excited about English wine. Engaging with wine influencers, bloggers, and journalists with a strong following can amplify individual winery efforts. Positive coverage and reviews can influence consumer perceptions and encourage them to explore British wines. I also encourage Influencers to stretch themselves and promote more than just trending sparkling wines and explore some of the smaller wineries with small-litre production. 
  9. Innovation and Experimentation: I encourage winemakers to experiment with grape varieties and collaborate with other winemakers across the UK. Working together to promote UK Wines and innovative techniques that can produce unique and exciting wines will capture consumers’ attention.
  10. Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness: Emphasising sustainable and eco-friendly practices in wine production aligns with growing consumer preferences. Highlighting these efforts is important to attract environmentally conscious consumers.

Let us all start celebrating the Great British Wines: I challenge you all to take three steps:

  • Learn more about British wines
  • Go to a winery for a tour and tasting
  • Ask your favourite local restaurant to have a British Wine on the menu

[1] France to spend €200m destroying wine as demand falls – By Alex Binley BBC News –

[2] France’s per capita wine consumption was around 42 litres per person per year, which made it one of the top wine-consuming countries in the world

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