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English and Welsh wine sales soar thanks to surging direct-to-consumer channel

English and Welsh wine producers enjoyed 31% sales growth in 2021 after ramping up their focus on the surging direct-to-consumer channel.

The latest survey from trade body WineGB shows that sales of English and Welsh wines have now increased by 69% between 2019 and 2021.

The star performer is the direct-to-consumer sector, which is up by 265% over two years. It now represents 57% of all sales, up from just 36% in 2019.

That means English and Welsh wine producers are increasingly cutting out the middlemen – supermarkets, specialist merchants, bars and restaurants – and selling directly to their devotees, either via their ecommerce sites or through their cellar door operations.

Tours of wineries and tastings are growing increasingly popular, which is helping to drive tourism in wine-producing regions across England and Wales.

There are now 3,758 hectares under vine in England and Wales, with 879 vineyards and 197 wineries – 195 in England and two in Wales.

They now employ more than 10,000 workers. Hectarage has increased by 70% in the past five years and quadrupled in size since 2000, with an average of 1.6 million new vines planted on an annual basis to help meet growing demand for British wines.

Producers are progressively dialling up their focus on sustainability. Seventy-seven of the country’s vineyards have now joined the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB) scheme.

However, they are the largest growers, accounting for around 55% of the total hectarage under vine.

These producers can add the SWGB certification to their wines, showing consumers that they have been produced in a sustainable manner. There are already 35 wines on the market bearing the SWGB accreditation.

Meanwhile, WineGB is considering an overhaul of the current PDO and PGI schemes used to classify wines produced in England and Wales.

‘We need to ensure these schemes are fit for purpose for a modern, quality focused and innovative production,’ said WineGB chief executive Simon Thorpe MW.  ‘We must have a scheme which protects and informs the consumer whilst equally adding value to producers.

‘We are also continuing our drive on sustainability, wine tourism, exports, product excellence and industry leadership.  The past 12 months has delivered a stronger and fitter wine production sector, one which is in a more robust place to confront the challenging economic times in which we live.’

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