More than 1000 vineyards and 4209 hectares under vine: UK wine production continues to grow

Wine production in the UK goes from strength to strength, at least in terms of the statistics. There are now more than 1000 vineyards in the UK.

Latest data from WineGB show that there are 1030 registered vineyards, a 9.2% year on year increase. And wine sales grew by 10% in this period against a background of falling sales from other countries.

Last year was another year of growth. In 2023, 87 new vineyards were registered, and 12 new wineries (bringing the total to 221). There are 4209 hectares under vine, which represents 123% growth over the last decade.

The equivalent of 21.6 million bottles were made in 2023, with the 5 year average being 12.4 m bottles. Of course, with all this extra wine, some one has to buy it, and this is leading to concern in some circles that we are heading for a glut.

Sales of UK wine in 2023 were 8.8 million bottles, a rise of 10% over 2022. Sparkling wine sales contributed 6.2 m bottles to this figure (in 2018 sales were just 2.2 million bottles) and still wines 2.6 m (from 1.2 m in 2018).

Perhaps, though, we need not be too alarmed by the discrepancy between production and sales. For traditional method sparkling wine, there is a slow trickle through to market, and many of these bottles made in 2023 will be sleeping for a few years, or being used for reserve wines. This gives sales some time to catch up.

‘The large production volume achieved last year is reassuring,’ say WineGB, ‘as it will enable our burgeoning wine producers to build up their stocks of reserve wine for use in non-vintage and multi-vintage sparkling wines, and for the small but growing category of NV/MV still wines. Reserve wines facilitate the creation of consistent products year-on-year. Stocks of these wines can take decades to develop, and they allow for greater wine complexity and more blending options for winemakers. As a young industry, building these stocks remains vitally important.’

I’d also add that Champagne is getting expensive. Moët et Chandon’s Brut Imperial is now over £40 on the shelf, and fancy non-vintage blends like Bollinger or Roederer are priced in the mid-to-late £50s. The days of £30 Grand Marques are long gone. This gives room to play for the stronger UK sparkling wines, and reports I’ve heard from retailers suggest that there’s good demand for decent English fizz.

Some more data: 76% of wine produced in 2023 will be made into sparkling wine, 23% into still wine, and 1% into other products such as Vermouth. 91% of sparkling wine is being made using the traditional method, 7% using Charmat, 1.8% using carbonation and a small fraction (0.2%) using other methods.

Grape Variety Hectarage and percentage of planting 
Chardonnay 1,331ha, 32% 
Pinot Noir 1,157ha, 27% 
Pinot Meunier 379ha, 9% 
Bacchus 324ha, 8% 
Seyval Blanc 127ha, 3% 
Solaris 110ha, 3% 
Pinot Noir Précoce 73ha, 2% 
Pinot Gris 69ha, 2% 
Reichensteiner 67ha, 2% 
Rondo 66ha, 2%