Amanda Stansfield is founder of Granny Gothards, a manufacturer and distributor of artisan ice cream in the UK and around the world. Since being founded on…
Having spent his career in the wine industry, we spoke to Guy Smith from Smith & Evans vineyard in Somerset to find out why he thinks it’s important to celebrate English wine, his top tip for choosing wine and how he thinks the pandemic impacted the English wine industry.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate English wine?
In the world of wine, English wine is remarkable. It’s one of the very few new regions in the world to come from virtually nothing. The last one was New Zealand and it’s very exciting to start from scratch when other people have been doing it for hundreds of years. To go to such a large production, probably about 13 million bottles this year of such high quality wine, is truly remarkable. We are now recognised along with champagne as being one of the finest producers of sparkling wine in the whole world. We estimate that this year there will be around 2 million vines being planted in the UK, we’re becoming a major industry and English wine is now around 10% of the volume of Champagne and growing fast!
Which English wines are you most excited about at the moment?
Well obviously I would have to say my own because each year it’s on its own journey. There’s always the excitement of tasting the new vintage and we tasted our new 2021 naturally fermented white wine for the first time last week.
England and Wales have become famous for sparkling wines but of the most truly interesting wines are now still wines which are quite often very naturally made because we don’t need to mess about too much. We have a natural freshness to the wines and they don’t have to travel halfway around the world and sit on shelves, they all get consumed very quickly.
As we approach the summer what would your recommendation be?
Not trying to sound too lazy but pretty much everything made in England and Wales is perfect for summer because our wines are naturally low in alcohol, crisp and fresh. Why not try something from your closest vineyard and get to know the growers?
What is your top tip for choosing wine?
My top tip is to go to your local independent wine merchant where you will get sound advice and a range chosen by an individual who can get to know your tastes. They also often have tastings in store which are fun.
Do you think the pandemic impacted the English wine industry?
Yes it did. Many consumers started buying wine direct from the producers and this hasn’t stopped. It’s estimated that around 40 to 45% of all English and Welsh wine is bought direct from the producers. It’s great that we now get to develop relationships with the people that drink our wine. Wine tourism has also become a much bigger thing and we’re all having a lot of fun doing wine tours and tastings.
What do you think are the biggest challenges those in the English wine industry face?
I think the biggest challenges to English wine will probably be climate change. It’s working in our favour at the moment, but the whole world is seeing extreme weather events which potentially can destroy a whole harvest. These include frost and hail. When we started, the biggest issues were possibly that nobody took us seriously, although that is no longer the case as English wine is gaining a global reputation.
To find out more about Smith & Evans, click here.
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