A series of seminars aimed to attract new and potential producers of top quality English and Welsh wines is being held at Fruit Focus 2013.

Vines to Wines, the mini-event set within Fruit Focus partnered by English Wine Producers (EWP) and the United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA), is well established as a source of advice for those already involved in producing and selling still and sparkling wine in the UK.

The content of the seminars, which include two workshops, will broaden its reach at the event, says Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director at EWP.

Trustram Eve  says: “We want to be more proactive in terms of attracting new people into the wine-growing sector. We deliver support to new and existing members and the UKVA provides a great platform for face-to-face contact with industry advisers who can help on all aspects of growing and producing wine. People value the chance to catch up and find out what’s new – it’s also a great place to network.

“We want to make even better use of these experts, planting a seed in the minds of people who might not yet have considered viticulture or who would be interested in finding out more.”

Topics covered include:

  • New varieties
  • Crop protection
  • Fertilisers and nutrition
  • Viticulture equipment
  • Vineyard management
  • Winemaking and wine quality
  • Product development
  • Winery design
  • Sales and marketing

The Vines to Wines seminar, Planning for a profitable vineyard operation in the UK, will be given by with Dr Richard Smart of Smart Viticulture, one of the world’s foremost vineyard consultants. The talk, at 1pm, will include tips on choosing the right parcel of land, including aspect, soils, climate and weather.

Dr Smart will also provide some valuable tips on siting vineyards to maximise wine tourism. He says: “A number of growers are doing exceptionally well by adding value to their wine through successful marketing on their own premises.”

The WineSkills workshops take place in East Malling Research’s demonstration vineyard and are delivered through WineSkills, an initiative managed by Plumpton College that organises workshops, masterclasses and mentoring for wine producers.

Wine industry workshops

There are two workshops – Summer pruning and canopy management with Roger Marchbank, UKVA deputy chairman, at 10 am and 2.30pm, and An approach to pest and disease monitoring at 11 am and 3.30 pm with William Biddulph, a New Zealand trained-winemaker who returned to his native Great Britain in 2004. After five years as principal winemaker and vineyard manager at Wickham Vineyard, Hampshire, Biddulph has since been offering independent advice to English vineyards.

Marchbank says: “We are on the edge of the recognised northerly wine growing latitude, so some care is needed to produce good wines. As well as a good site, we also need to manage the canopy correctly, removing enough to reduce the threat of disease and to allow grapes to get as much sun as possible, without compromising the canopy’s ability to produce fruit.

“Over the past two or three years, particularly in 2011, Chardonnay grown for sparkling wine ripened early enough to make a still wine. It was oaked in the Burgundy style, and was preferred by most tasters when compared with a very respectable wine from that region. This shows we can produce excellent wine and can achieve the right price.”

Fruit Focus is an increasingly busy event, says Trustram Eve: “There is no let-up in the increasing popularity of English wine. Sales continue to rise, although production took a bit of a knock in the 2012 vintage. However, the quality of what was produced is excellent, reflecting the ethos underlining English and Welsh wines.”

The region is getting a name for high quality still and sparkling wines, she adds. This is driving a very healthy interest both at home and now abroad, and the industry continues to grow as a result, says Trustram Eve.

“There were 50ha of new vines in 2012, taking the area in England and Wales to 1438ha, twice what it was a few years ago.” Sparkling wines currently account for about 60% of production, and most exports. Under 10% of total production is shipped abroad, but that share is expected to rise significantly over the next few years.

Tickets for Fruit Focus 2013 cost £10 (inc VAT) and are available online or on the day. The seminar and WineSkills workshops are included, but places for the workshops are limited and must be booked in advance through the ticketing process. For more information, click here.


Fruit Focus takes place on Weds July 24, 2013 at East Malling, Kent.  Opening times 9am – 5pm.