The UK’s wine industry looks set to continue its impressive growth as it reveals that a record-breaking one million vines will be planted in the UK this year. In recognition of the increasing importance and popularity of UK wine, the industry has launched a brand new competition designed to celebrate the incredible achievements of England and Wales’ wine producers, and to crown the UK’s very best wine.
The inaugural UK Wine Awards will be led by a glittering line up of wine experts including Susie Barrie MW (leading wine writer and one of the wine experts on BBC Saturday Kitchen), wine luminary Oz Clarke and leading sommelier and wine writer Hamish Anderson.
They will be joining forces with the UK wine industry itself, as well as boutique hotel brand and wine lovers Hotel du Vin, the quintessentially English magazine Country Life and Waitose, which carries the largest range of English and Welsh wines on the high street.
Wines from producers large and small from around the country will be pitched against each other and judged blind over two days. The results will be announced on Wednesday 31st May as part of English Wine Week celebrations.
The new awards come at a pivotal moment for English and Welsh wines:
- One million vines are set to be planted in the UK this year – the largest number ever planted in a single year in the UK
- In the last ten years the acreage planted with grapevines has grown by an astonishing 135%
- Since the year 2000, the area under vine has nearly tripled
- This means wine production is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the UK
- This year’s vine planting will yield another two million bottles of mainly sparkling wine, adding an estimated £50m to the industry
- These vines will fill an estimated 625 acres – the equivalent of planting up the whole of London’s Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens combined
Viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton MW, commenting on the growth in plantings, said: “2017 will see the largest number of vines ever planted in a single year in the UK, and underlines the popularity of both English sparkling and still wines with the wine-buying public. Producers have seen demand soar, both at home and abroad, and are planting for the future.”
Commenting on the inaugural UK Wine Awards being launched this year, Susie Barrie MW said:, “The UK Wine Awards has been launched to showcase one of the world’s most exciting wine regions. There is so much to shout about and I’m grateful to our fantastic sponsors Country Life, Hotel du Vin and Waitrose, all three of whom are steadfast supporters of great British produce and producers.”
Oz Clarke added, “What a year to initiate our new UK wine Awards. The French finally admit they like our wines. New York decides that English bubbles are the next big cool wine ‘thing’. And we are planting a million new vines in our nation this year. We are bubbling with confidence. And we want a UK Wine Awards which reflects that confidence, to trumpet the message across the wine world that the English and the Welsh are coming and we will not be denied!”
Rebecca Hull MW, English wine buyer at Waitrose and one of the UK Wine Awards judges, commented: “Waitrose have been stalwart supporters of English and Welsh wines for many years now, and we see customer demand for them growing year upon year. These wines are world class and the Awards will certainly serve to highlight some of the gems produced on our own doorstep. We’re really proud of our support of this exciting and growing industry.”
Calum Russell, director at Hotel du Vin said, “As our name suggests wine is at the heart of what we do. We are passionate about finding the very best wines for our customers to try, and English and Welsh wines are increasingly a key part of that. We’re delighted to be supporting the competition and the UK wine industry.”
Country Life’s editor, Mark Hedges, added: “Country Life champions all things British, including wine. Our readers expect the very best and English wines are now among the finest—it is an honour to be involved.”
The full results from the competition will be unveiled in the 31st May edition of Country Life as well as extensively on social meadia (@ukwineawards)