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Plea for Brits home and abroad to 'raise a glass' this St George’s Day

By Georgina Townshend , 21-Apr-2017
Last updated on 21-Apr-2017 at 13:00 GMT2017-04-21T13:00:04Z

Raise a glass: MP joins WSTA to urge support for English wine and spirit makers
Raise a glass: MP joins WSTA to urge support for English wine and spirit makers

As St George’s Day celebrations commence up and down the country this weekend, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has called on Brits and UK ambassadors across the world to “raise a glass” to all the wine and spirit makers across England’s 'green and pleasant land'.

This week, the MP for Wealden, Nusrat Ghani, has joined forces with the WSTA to encourage the British public home and abroad to serve English wine and spirits for St George's Day, on 23 April. 

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “Our 'Serve British' campaign lays down the gauntlet to all our representatives from both the UK Government and parliament to showcase the very best of British around the world.

“What better day to promote our English heritage than St George’s Day to crack open a top-quality bottle of English sparkling wine or a carefully crafted gin or whisky from one of our growing number of English distillers.”

Serve British Bill

Ghani, whose constituency is home to more than a dozen vineyards and wine producers, wants the Diplomatic Service to take a more literal approach to the promotion of British exports, by serving English produce itself.

Last month, the MP introduced a new law seeking to ensure that British embassies and consulates overseas purchase and serve English wines and sparkling wines at events and functions.

“I hope that following the introduction of my Serve British Bill, our embassies abroad will be treating guests to English wine or spirits at their St George’s Day celebrations this weekend”, she said.

“UK ambassadors should be showing their support for our high-quality and high-profile indigenous products at all events and functions, and there should be no excuses for not offering a glass of something English on St George’s Day.

“This is a prime opportunity to express our pride in England’s quality wine and spirit makers.

“I, for one, plan to celebrate St George’s Day with a little English sparkle and enjoy a glass of fizz from one of the excellent Sussex vineyards in my constituency.”

Growing English portfolio

England has a lot to boast about in terms of its growing quality wine and spirit portfolio, according to the WSTA.

In the past 10 years, the area of planted vines has more than doubled with a record-breaking 1m vines being planted in the UK this year. This is set to grow by a further 50% by 2020.

The success of these wines has led Champagne houses to look to invest in vineyards in the south of England because the chalky soils and climate are similar to those found in the Champagne region of France.

Total gin sales across the UK in our supermarkets, shops, bars and restaurants broke the £1bn sales mark last year – with three out of four bottles of gin imported around world coming from the UK.

In 2016, Britain sold £474m worth of gin overseas and sales are set to break the £500m mark during 2017.

Fourteen distilleries in England, stretching from Kent to Yorkshire, have also started making English whisky.

English whisky used to be produced in abundance in the 19th century, but when the last distillery fell silent in Lea Valley Distillery, Stratford, London, in 1905, English whisky production stalled.

However, almost 100 years on, English whisky production gained more popularity after the turn of the Millennium and continues to do so to this day.

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