It also estimated that, by 2040, wine tourism in the UK could generate an additional £658m in revenue per annum.
Britain’s burgeoning wine industry, which now boasts more than 500 vineyards and 165 wineries, yielded an estimated 15.6m bottles in its 2018 harvest – a 130% increase on 2017 and the largest on record.
Moreover, a record number of winemakers and viticulturist have enrolled in courses at East Sussex’s Plumpton College – a further and higher education specialist land-based college – with French Champagne houses such as Taittinger and Louis Pommery buying land and planting vines in England.
Big for rural economies
In addition to the increasing in scale and standard of British winemaking, it’s also estimated that wine tourism on these shores will make a splash in rural communities.
As reported by The Morning Advertiser, seven breweries, distilleries and wineries were recognised by VisitEngland as top tourist attractions in 2018 – with Hush Heath Winery, in Tonbridge, Kent, recognised with a gold accolade.
“We started our English wine tour business in 2015 and it’s grown ever since,” Nicola Boarer, owner of English Wine Tasting & Tours explained.
“We soon discovered that English wine not only appeals to Londoners but has a growing appeal to international visitors in particular North Americans and Scandinavians.
“Wine tourism is really the next thing for rural economies as the Government is looking at ways to get people out of London to spend their pounds. Our public tours run from London Bridge and 35% of our wine tour guests are American, 5% other international travellers and the remaining 60% are Londoners.
“We are working with Visit Britain to increase the number of international rural visitors to visit the countryside and to spend money outside of London.”
‘Give and take’ after Brexit
As revealed in The Morning Advertiser, Vicky Bullen, CEO of brand design agency Coley Porter Bell, wondered whether Brexit could finally mark the mass acceptance of British wine.
In a similar vein, Boarer believes that wine tourism will have an important role to play after we leave the EU.
“We get asked a lot on wine tours what will Brexit do to the wine industry and we tell people there will be some give and take after the dust settles,” Boarer explained.
“If our currency weakens against the dollar that would help wine tourism but it also means wine equipment and machinery may increase in cost from international suppliers. Much of the picking labour is from eastern European countries so temporary work visas may be required for seasonal grape pickers.
“The days of when London’s east enders used to come down to pick fruit and hops are gone, but the history still lives on our wine tours. We tell the full story as we travel through the countryside visiting vineyards, passing by apple orchards and hop gardens. Many people have never seen such fruit farming or hop growing.”
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