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Wine News

English wine producers ask for chance to grow

English wine producers made a representation to the House of Lords last week in support of scrapping the EU restrictions on planting vines, which could stifle the growth of the UK wine industry in the future. Mike Roberts, who owns RidgeView Wine Estate and is also Chairman of English Wine Producers, which represents growers, told ThirtyFifty, ‘It’s extraordinarily important for the UK’s exciting, rapidly growing wine business. At the moment we are planting like mad. The rules don’t apply to countries making less than 3.3 million bottles but it is likely that by 2010 we will be planting more than that.’

2010 is when the current EU plan comes up for review. Its no-planting policy, along with subsidies, has been aimed at controlling volumes in countries like France, who’ve been awash with unwanted wine over the past few years. This, however, isn’t the case in the UK. As Mike says, ‘We’ve a wonderful opportunity in the southern counties to create an industry here and we don’t want to compromise our ability to grow our business.’

Sparkling wine is the rising star and Mike believes we should be able to make as much of it as we can, especially as we’ll never produce huge quantities to compete with the millions of bottles of champagne that the French sell to us every year. After all, he explains, ‘We’re never going to get beyond 10 per cent of imports of sparkling wine with our production.’

There is also one other thing to consider, says Mike. ‘With global warming, the market will have to change and we want the UK to be seen as a producer of sparkling wine.’