UK winemakers are toasting a bumper 2014 harvest as production continues to grow, with the country’s vineyard area more than doubling in the last seven years.
Vineyards at Chapel Down in Kent
Producers made 47,433 hectolitres of wine last year, the equivalent of 6.3m bottles and up 42% in volume terms on the 2013 crop – itself a record-breaker.
Vineyards in the UK now cover more than 2,000 hectares of land, the majority of it planted for sparkling wine production, which has risen by nearly 150% in the past five years.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are now the most planted grape varieties – followed by still wine stalwart Bacchus – and total plantings have risen by more than 230% in the last eight years.
Some two-thirds of 2014 production, or about 4m bottles, was devoted to sparkling wine production, according to estimates from English Wine Producers (EWP) and United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA).
The 2014 growing season was characterised by a long, warm spring and summer, giving healthy grapes in large quantities, despite a cooler than hoped-for autumn.
‘The last two years have provided excellent growing conditions for our grapes – great flowering weather and a warm summer,’ said viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton MW.
‘The vineyards have produced some very good quality grapes and volumes of still and sparkling wines.’
Written by Richard Woodard