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English wine ‘needs a shake-up’, says Hush Heath owner

English winemakers should not be distracted by side projects to get appellation status for regions like Sussex and need a singular focus to promote their image abroad, Richard Balfour-Lynn has argued.

Several English wine estates made the trip to ProWein 2015 in Dusseldorf this week

Speaking to Decanter.com at the ProWein 2015 trade show in Germany, the Hush Heath estate owner criticised the vanity of plans by some English wine estates to apply for protected name status for Sussex– similar to that enjoyed by Champagne.

It’s an issue that has divided the trade and is debated in the ‘Burning Question’ section of Decanter magazine’s May issue, out on 1 April.

‘It’s about self-importance. It doesn’t mean anything,’ said Richard Balfour-Lynn, whose estate produces wine under the Balfour label. Hush Heath and fellow Kent producer Chapel Down have both come out against a PDO for neighbouring Sussex.

Balfour-Lynn said English wine needed a ‘shake-up’ on the marketing front and that wineries should work harder together to promote the image of English wines in export markets.

Trade body English Wine Producers has been credited with using limited funds to increase exposure for wine estates in recent years. But, Balfour-Lynn said producers still act on their own too much.

‘We need to think more collaboratively. We’ve got to be seen more as a co-operative; as a group,’ he said.

Optimism has increased among wine estates in the UK in the past year, following higher sales, investments land and winery facilities and good harvest conditions for the 2014 vintage.

English Wine Producers said earlier this year that retail sales of the sector’s wines could be close to £100m in 2015.

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Written by Chris Mercer

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