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New horizons open up for English wine in 2017

English and Welsh sparkling wine is being shipped to a growing number of countries, says new report.

Wine producers in the UK want to increase exports by ten-fold up to 2020 and have claimed strong early progress, with bottles of English and Welsh sparkling wine being sent to 27 countries in 2016.

Even France and Italy, the homes of Champagne and Prosecco, imported a few bottles of UK sparkling wine in 2016, according to a new report by the government.

It said that English and Welsh sparkling wine was shipped to 27 different countries last year, compared to 19 a year earlier.

The UK only exported around 250,000 bottles of wine in total in 2015. Champagne alone exported 150 million bottles.

But English and Welsh wineries have lofty growth ambitions and major producers have committed to increasing total exports to 2.5 million bottles in 2020.

‘2016 will be seen as the year that English Fizz earned its export wings,’ said Red Johnson, founder and CEO of the British Bottle Company, which exports the wine.

‘From a standing start in 2015, we now ship wine to almost every sophisticated global wine market.’

English wine’s rising popularity at home has already seen total retail sales for wine produced in the UK hit around £100 million annually.

It is expected that Christmas and New Year 2016 will show rising demand English and Welsh sparkling. Marks & Spencer saw sales of homegrown sparkling wines double last year, and Waitrose saw sales rise by 50%, according to English Wine Producers and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

UK vineyard land has doubled in the past 10 years and the past year has seen Champagne houses enter the fray. Taittinger is planting an English vineyard in Kent along with investment partners.

Sparkling wine in the UK is being followed with interest by several high-profile wine critics. Producers also won dozens of awards at the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards.

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