Sussex vineyards at the forefront of record-breaking year for English wine 

Vineyards in the South of England are making the UK one of the fastest expanding wine regions in the world, accounting for more than 60% of plantings in 2019. 

  • 3 million vines planted in England and Wales this year, with more than 60% of plantings in the South of England.
  • East and West Sussex the largest area for wine production, with more than 750 hectares planted.
  • Booming English wine sales could reach a retail value of £1 billion by 2040

New figures from Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) have revealed three million vines have been planted this year alone – the biggest planting of record and nearly double the number of vines planted last year.

Winemakers from Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire have played a vital role in this success, with a bumper harvest seeing more than 750 hectares of vines planted across Sussex in 2019.

The wine industry is becoming one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the UK, with this year’s planting contributing to an additional 690 hectares of vineyard and a 24% increase in land under vine.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: 

“The UK’s wine industry has boomed in the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down with vineyards in Sussex and the rest of the South of England playing a huge role in this success.“

The South of England has been regularly commended for its high quality wine. Earlier this year the region took home three coveted Best in Show Decanter Medals within the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards, with three of the top 50 wines globally coming from West Sussex and Kent, England.

2018 was also particularly successful year for wine from the South of England, with grapes from vineyards in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire contributing to Nyetimber’s International Winemaker of the Year Award –  the first time the Award has been granted to a winemaker outside of the Champagne region.

Simon Robinson, Chairman of Wines of Great Britain has said:

“Our wine industry is seeing fantastic growth, with year on year increases in plantings, production and sales. This is spurring expansion in other key areas such as employment, tourism and of course exports.

“This is a thriving British industry of which we can be justifiably proud.”

The three million vines planted this year are nearly double the number of vines planted last year (1.6 million vines) and three times the 1 million vines planted in 2017, according to Wine GB.

The vineyards in the East and West of Sussex are the largest producers of English wine followed closely by Kent, Hampshire and Surrey.

Following last year’s bountiful summer harvest, 15.6 million bottles of wine were produced – far exceeding average production figures of 5.5 million bottles. In the UK there are more than 500 commercial vineyards across just 2888 hectares of land (2018 figures).

Sales of English wine have increased by 31% between 2015 and 2017, and in 2018 alone, 2.6 million bottles of English wine were sold – equal to an increase of sales by 186%. By 2040, the English wine industry is expected to produce 40 million bottles a year, equal to a retail value of £1 billion.

Wine in the UK is increasingly becoming more popular, with English and Welsh commercial and home-grown wines found in a variety of supermarkets, restaurants and retailers.

The growth in the wine industry is also supporting the UK wine tourism, with some 200 vineyards open for public access.

Through the Government’s Food is GREAT campaign, Defra is committed to driving exports of UK food and drink, opening new international markets and supporting UK companies in their work to go global. Food is GREAT has recently organised events in the United States and Japan to position Britain as a front runner in sparkling wine production and showcase the sheer variety of UK food and drink available overseas.