Wiltshire, UK wine storage facility / Getty
Britain’s wine industry is booming. Grapevine plantings, over 98% of which are in England, have more than doubled in the past eight years, with a 70% increase in the last five years alone. According to Wines of Great Britain, the industry’s organizing body, 8.7 million vines were planted in English and Welsh soil between 2017 and 2021.
While sales of English wine have also increased, some experts worry that it isn’t enough to stave off an impending oversupply problem, when British growers and producers will struggle to find a consumer base large enough to meet the increase in production.
The rate of production, however, is difficult to predict in Britain’s erratic climate.
There were generous yields in 2018 and 2019, with 2020 offering a comparatively modest harvest. In 2021, very wet weather accompanied flowering. Consequently, the industry produced around 2.5 million less bottles than the 10 million bottle average of the three previous years.
“Indeed, at the end of 2021, many people were complaining of a shortage of wine, not a glut,” says Oz Clarke OBE, a British presenter, broadcaster and author of dozens of wine books, including English Wine and Oz Clarke on Wine.