A short series of seminars on English wine to be held at May’s Art, Design & A Taste of Summer festival at Blenheim Palace is set to highlight the “positive story” of English and Welsh wine.
The Wine Tipster is confident that he is holding a short series of seminars on English and Welsh wine at a time when domestic production is capable of being taken seriously by wine consumers and is reaching a critical mass of production that will allow it to take on foreign competition.
Wine industry consultant Neil Phillips, aka Monty Phillips The Wine Tipster, accentuates the positive in considering the potential for growers in the UK. He says: “I am very positive because of the investment that continues to take place. For example Waitrose are taking English Wines seriously with their Leckford vineyard which will be producing sparkling wines from around 2013 and 2014. The quality of sparkling wines being produced is of a high standard, with a combination of styles that people are beginning to understand and appreciate.”
Phillips is holding his Waitrose-sponsored talks during the three day Art, Design & A Taste of Summer event at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire between 28 and 30 May. This is the second time he will be give his seminars, he says.
The themes of his talks will cover, among other topics, the fact that there are over 400 vineyards in England and Wales, with the most northerly vineyard near York; the recent history of the English and Welsh wine industry; the positive story of the investments being made in the English and Welsh wine industry.
Phillips says: “One topic will be an understanding by English wine producers of which varietals and styles are working. For example, sparkling wines and whites made from Ortega and Bacchus rosé wines.
“I will be featuring wines from some of the top English producers as well as some of the quality local vineyards too. These wines will cover the key varietals and blends that are the future of English wines.”
Other topics to be covered include food and wine tasting with key English food producers as well as English and Welsh wine tourism.
Are the seminars, for which an entrance fee is charged, more educational or entertainment? He says: “Both! This is what consumers want. The Wine Tipster is entertaining, educational, lively, fun and always provides a story.”
Going ahead into the next decade of production in the English and Welsh industries, Phillips forecasts likely significant positive developments and opportunities that will open to canny investors and growers.
He says: “The sparkling wines producers need to focus on proving themselves against other high quality sparkling producers from Spain, New Zealand, South Africa. White wines and roses will gain increased distribution. Key wine awards will increase and this resultant PR which will increase recognition and support from consumers. More high profile wine makers will be consulting.
“Wine tourism will increase and will become a more important feature to the consumer.”
How can producers and the trade identify and remove the brakes on the popularity of English and Welsh wine at present and how might they be overcome? He says: “Getting people to sample the wines, with more English wine seminars at consumer shows. Once people try the wines they are really impressed
“Greater retail distribution in supermarkets, independent retailers and online will help. The majority of retailers are not trying to progress their English and Welsh category. They should be supporting local wine producers in the same way that they did for food.
“English wines now have a clear message in terms of what works in terms of styles of wines and that sparkling, whites and rose is the way forward and we know which varietals work.”
Next year, there will be at least two significant events in the UK that could provide commercial opportunities for English and Welsh growers. However, The Wine Tipster cautions that the events may not provide the payday some might consider.
Regarding the Diamond Jubilee, real opportunities may be limited: “Only two or three producers are going to benefit from supplying The Royal Family for various events,” he says. On the other hand, there may be more opportunities arising from the Olympics.
“The Olympics is probably a bigger opportunity in terms of engaging with the on trade and off trade in terms of increased distribution and getting people to support the industry,” Phillips notes.
He does advise that the English and Welsh industry should link strongly with Taste Britain in time for the games.
So who does Phillips hope to see at his seminars? He says: “A person who tastes a range of wines from the Old and New World but hasn’t tried many English wines previously or visited an English winery. They understand how positive the industry is, purchase the wines, tell their mates and start visiting English wineries.”
The tickets can be bought in advance Tel: 0845 230 5176 or online at www.livingcrafts.co.uk at £9.00 per adult or £16.50 including Blenheim Palace. Adult on the day £11.00 or £19.00 including Blenheim Palace.