Being on the inside of an industry, one is generally somewhat insulated from what the public perception of a market is. There is no doubting that exposure of English wine, particularly the sparkling kind, is permeating through to the general public, via print, online and television media.

Celebrity wine aficionados and chefs such as Oz Clarke, Olly Smith, Susy Atkins, Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver, to name just a few, are helping raise the profile of the quality of wine being produced in England and Wales.

Having represented my company ( at a fair few wine events and shows over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with the wine-drinking public. Whilst promoting our wide range of sparkling wines from producers large and small at these events, it has really hit home how popular the overall brand of English fizz has become, but also how much further we have to go.

Something I enjoy greatly when meeting consumers is the look of pleasant surprise on the faces of the ‘non-believers’, who challenge me with their, ‘Convince me why I should drink this over Champagne…’. The ‘believers’ don’t need much work – they happily and enthusiastically sample wines from our wide range, and it’s great to be able to introduce new brands and smaller names to their English wine repertoire.

With the impending release of a number of new sparkling wine producers’ first vintages, as well as exciting second releases due this year, we are in for some real treats. Having had the opportunity to try a number of the wines to be released this coming year, it’s clear that the quality is there, and of course that quantity is also rising.

With the increase in production that is set to take place this year, we (the industry) have to encourage the demand as much as we can. Domestically, the availability of English sparkling wine in bars and restaurants is increasing year on year, and in time people will be choosing English fizz over Champagne and other sparklers every time. Something that I’m sure retailers and restaurants won’t ignore this year are the opportunities that exist in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics… With the undoubted hoardes of visitors to our fair capital this summer, we must shout about our wines (along with other local produce), to take advantage of excellent marketing opportunities for English fare to an international crowd.

The international market is one that ripe, but one that also requires a concerted effort on behalf of the industry. There is a great demand for English fizz from countries like China, Japan and India (as well as those closer to us), and we can only hope to fulfil these demands as the level of production goes up.

We look forward to taking on some new and exciting brands this year on Sparkling English Wine, extending our range of sparkling wines further to help promote quality products of the English wine industry reaching out further, both domestically and internationally.

Thomas Jones