English wine fizzing as climate change extends growing season
Kitty Logan


Across the UK, wineries are struggling to meet summer visitor demand, as the British wine industry continues to enjoy a revival. 

Sales have steadily increased in recent years, with 8.8 million bottles of wine produced in the UK in 2020 – up by a third on previous years. Two-thirds of those were well-established ranges of sparkling wines, but still wine production is expanding to take over a third of the market. 

Though once shunned by wine lovers, British labels are beginning to receive international recognition with a rush of awards.



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Sam Lintner, managing director at the Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex and the chair of the wine-producing body WineGB, says much of that success is down to improved quality. "I think what happened over the years is we learnt our craft." she says. "We learnt how to train the vines in a way we can grow really good quality and healthy crop and ripe crop. And that's really what happened. It's the innovations of the vineyard that have really made the difference."


Grapes growing at the Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex. /Kitty Logan/CGTN

Grapes growing at the Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex. /Kitty Logan/CGTN


On a showery July day, vineyard workers carefully tuck strands of vines to expose slowly ripening Chardonnay grapes. Weather changes have contributed towards the success of British wines. 

"You get earlier springs, getting lots of warm sunshine," says Sam Lintner. "So, the extension of the season is really important, because it does give those 100 days we need to get full ripeness of the grapes."

Bolney Wine Estate, which is one of the oldest in the country, grows six varieties of grape to produce a full range of still and sparkling wines – red, white and rose. 

Last year, the winery turned out 150,000 bottles, which it sold online, to supermarkets and to wine outlets. 

"On average, over the past 10 years, we've probably grown between 25 and 33 percent,” says Lintner. "Every year, year-on-year. The more wine we make, the more we sell and the more we keep growing." 

Wine sales in general rose sharply during the pandemic, but Lintner believes the trend to buy British wines was already developing and is not driven by the UK leaving the European Union. With more vineyards being planted in the UK than ever before – a four-fold increase – that growth trend is set to continue for some time to come.

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