Exports of UK wine doubled from 2018 to 2019 to around 550,000 bottles, said trade body WineGB and the Department for International Trade today (8 September).
Exports constituted one tenth of the total 5.5m bottles of UK wine sold in 2019, with Norway, the US, Canada and Australia the four biggest destinations.
Sparkling styles have led the way and UK government officials highlighted English wine as a success story that could benefit from post-Brexit trade deals being negotiated with several countries.
One of those countries is Japan, which is already the third largest export market for Champagne and is now one of the fastest growing markets for UK wines, accounting for 6% of exports by volume in 2019.
Graham Stuart, UK minister for exports, said, ‘A self-confident English wine industry will be in pole position to take advantage of a future trade deal with Japan and capitalise on other agreements we will sign in the Asia-Pacific region, and across the world.’
Gusbourne Estate, based in Kent, south-east England, recently signed a deal with Japan Airways, which will see its sparkling wines sold in first-class lounges.
Balfour Hush Heath Estate, also based in Kent, will also see its wines sold by Japanese importer and distributor 21 Community, after receiving help from the UK government in organising meetings with potential partners.
Adam Williams, the winery’s sales director, said, ‘Seeing our wines in so many different countries is extremely exciting and although exporting currently represents a small part of our overall sales, they are growing significantly every year as the awareness and interest in English wines continues to grow.’
WineGB said the long-term outlook for UK wine producers was positive, despite the uncertainty and financial challenges created by the Covid pandemic in 2020.
Simon Robinson, the trade group’s chairman, said, ‘We obviously cannot overlook the seismic changes everyone has experienced this year due to COVID-19, which will no doubt be reflected in our next industry report.
‘This year has inevitably brought serious setbacks, but the industry has reacted nimbly to address the issues and as a result we have also seen significant developments in direct to consumer sales and increased growth through the UK retail sector; we therefore remain broadly positive for the future.’
Vineyard land has expanded by 150% in the last decade and a quarter of respondents to WineGB’s recent trade survey said they planned to plant more vines in the next three years.