The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

English winemakers torn over Brexit vote

English winemakers torn over Brexit vote

English winemakers have been presented with a conundrum following the Brexit vote as on one hand their wine is cheaper to export following a 20% devaluation in their currency, but they also heavily rely on Europe for export sales.

According to Hattingley Valley Wines sales and export manager, Gareth Maxwell, the bulk of the English winemaking industry voted to stay ‘in’ the European Union.

“Speaking on behalf of the English wine trade, we voted to stay in because we deal with Europeans all the time,” he told The Shout at ProWein in Dusseldorf

“But Brexit could actually be a good opportunity for us – there will be more patriotism at home where people think they should support their local industry and then also obviously because of the currency (devaluation). We dealt with our US distributor and we had pricing confirmed with them and agreed these prices, then we voted to leave the EU and now our wines have become 20 per cent cheaper for them – so they were happy as Larry.

“Our sparkling wines have been beating Champagnes in competitions and with the currency changes, it also means that Champagne is more expensive coming into the UK and as the world collapses we are doing very well. With that and global warming, the English wine industry is rocking.”

Maxwell who concentrates on sparkling wines, says that still wines are still harder to come by from English winemakers.
“You do get still wine from English producers, but they can be a little expensive. We are at a point where there is the old industry – that many will remember was built on the Germanic hybrid varieties like Reichensteiner and Sable Blanc – that were easy to ripen and high yielding, but not high quality and still quite expensive – so not really a winner. That old industry is sort of falling away and everything that is being planted is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Speaking about ProWein, Maxwell said he had been coming to the show for five years and over this time, the English wine market has developed.

“The market for us has grown massively. Export now accounts for 30 per cent of our business. A lot of us have launched with a national distributor in the US and a lot of the other producers are with national distributors as well. Most of us now see export as a key thing. Hattingley has always done it since the beginning but now we are growing all around the world. As a nation, English wine producers are available in 27 countries and our Hattingley wines are available in 15 countries.

Hattingley has only been selling wine since 2013 and we started exporting from day one. Exports now represent 30 per cent of its business and it hopes to increase this to half of sales.

“The English wine making industry is still relatively small with about four and a half million bottles of sparkling produced. I think you will see the producers change – some will dip in and dip out – but there will always be five or six main producers. There’s more estates emerging and within that there’s a couple of big ones coming.”

Pic: Hattingley Valley Wines sales and export manager, Gareth Maxwell.