Sparkling wine booms as UK develops a thirst for fizz – especially if it’s home grown

Britain’s growing thirst for prosecco and cava has created an 80% rise in sparkling wine sales in the past five years, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures released today .

About 17.6 million gallons of the sparkling wines were sold in 2011-12, and that has shot to an estimated 31.6 million gallons in 2015/16, according to accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

The majority of sparkling wines are imported from established wine-producing nations such as France, Spain and Italy – but more is now being made at home, by domestic producers such as Kent’s award-winning Chapel Down.

In 2015, 37 new wine producers and vineyards opened in England, reflecting the growing recognition of home-grown produce.

An English 2010 sparkling vintage, which appeared on fine-wine trading platform Liv-ex for the first time, was hailed as a “landmark moment” earlier this month.

James Simmonds, a partner at Hacker Young, said the new figures were a “great boost” for English producers who had shown their products to be a “viable alternative”.

He said: “Not only is the growing success of English sparkling wine encouraging more to come to the market but more established names are now looking to expand into new stages of growth.

“Vineyards provide businesses with numerous opportunities to diversify and offer additional services such as shops, cafes, wine-tastings, events and weddings as well as producing wine.

“These add-ons can be effective ways for new producers to supplement their income whilst waiting for their wine to mature.

“It’s uncertain what will happen after Brexit to UK imports of prosecco and Champagne, but what is clear is that no matter what happens English sparkling wine is already a viable alternative.”

Cava and prosecco are two of the most popular types of affordable champagne alternatives, with many bottles sold for less than £10.

UK consumption of sparkling wine by volume is expected to rise by 13% between now and 2019 compared with more modest still wine growth of just 0.6%, Hacker Young’s figures reveal.

This year, sparkling wine sales in the UK soared past the £1bn mark for the first time according to the Wine & Spirits Trade Association, with retail sales during the first three months of the year enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Sparkling wine sales in the on-trade are up 50% year-on-year, while off-trade volume sales are up by 20% with Prosecco now accounting for over half of the sparkling retail market in the UK.

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