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English winemakers turn sights to export ahead of Prowein debut

English winemakers are looking to build on their higher profile following last year's Jubilee and Olympics celebrations with a greater push on exports in 2013.

English wine: push for exports

Generic body English Wine Producers (EWP) will exhibit at German trade show Prowein for the first time later this month. It will feature wines from several estates, including up-and-coming Hattingley Valley, from Hampshire, as well as Chapel Down and Ridgeview, among others.

‘For the last few years we’ve been working towards 2012, but now we’re facing something completely new,’ EWP’s marketing director, Julia Trustram Eve, told Decanter.com.

‘Producers are turning their sights to exports as part of marketing strategies. They do see opportunities.’

Mark Driver, for example, whose Rathfinny estate in East Sussex should be processing 800,000 litres of sparkling and still wines by 2020, expects to export 50%. His neighbouring winery, the multi-award-winning Ridgeview, exports 20% of its near-250,000 bottle production.

Ridgeview’s owner and winemaker Mike Roberts told Decanter.com they are now in 11 markets worldwide, from Japan and Hong Kong to the US via the Scandinavian monopolies, Australia and Switzerland.

‘It is a deliberate policy – I fervently believe in exporting. I like to build a table with lots of legs,’ he said.

A weak harvest in 2012 means supplies of English still wine could be under pressure in 2013. But, producers are buoyed by the expected increase in stocks of sparkling, which carries more prestige in export markets and is coming to fruition after a bumper harvest in 2010.

‘2012 is certainly going to have an impact on us,’ said Trustram Eve, ‘but you’re not suddenly going to see a dearth of English wines.’ New producers are also coming into the fold this year, she added.

There is optimism following a spike in sales during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations last June, and a profile boost from the London Olympics.

‘A few producers are saying they’ve experienced some really good sales in the first two months of 2013, in what is normally a very quiet period,’ Trustram Eve said. ‘Already, it looks as if everything that happened last year is showing a legacy.’

Written by Chris Mercer and Adam Lechmere

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