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…
Susy Atkins is an award-winning wine expert who has been a wine writer for 30 years. Susy writes weekly columns in The Telegraph, is the wine and spirits editor for Delicious magazine and is the author of several wine and drinks books. Susy has also appeared on Saturday Kitchen as a regular wine expert and she regularly gives wine tastings across the UK. Susy was also recently appointed to Food Drink Devon board of directors.
Susy, why do you think the English wine industry has grown over the last few years?
The industry is tiny but with great successes. Not only is the climate warmer (which has a big impact on how sparkling wine is produced) but many in the industry were hobbyists – now the majority are professionally trained with better knowledge. Alongside this, technology has developed and better kit is used throughout the process.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities for businesses in the industry?
The English wine industry is growing and there will be many more people working in the industry in 20 years’ time. There are various different opportunities that branch out from growing vines and these include wedding venues, wine tastings and restaurants as well as working in the wineries and the vineyards.
It is a risk to enter the industry because it can be an expensive venture.
The hospitality sector was hit hard during the pandemic, how do you think the English wine industry was impacted?
At the beginning of the pandemic, many were worried, they were sat on lots of stock and weren’t allowed any visitors. However, during the first lockdown, consumers started purchasing wine online to drink at home whilst choosing to support local businesses. And as we eased ourselves out of lockdown, you could visit local vineyards even with social distancing in place so awareness of English wine grew during the pandemic.
What do you think are the biggest challenges businesses in the industry face?
The biggest challenge is the climate – you need long warm growing periods with no late frost when buds are bursting. In England, we have a cooler climate which is why they make such brilliant sparkling wine.
Another challenge is price as English wine is so expensive – it isn’t mass produced and most of the wine comes from smaller vineyards. However, the quality of English sparkling wine is high. It is every bit as good as champagne and is a treat, but really worth it!
It is important that it is promoted well and people like myself can really highlight how fantastic English wine is.
Are there any English wines that stand out to you right now?
Making sparkling wine is a long process and can take years to produce. 2018 saw a long hot summer / autumn, the perfect climate for growing and producing good quality sparkling wine. It became known as ‘vintage of the century’ and the wines from this year are among the ones now coming onto the market and they stand out to me.
You can visit Susy’s website and find out about upcoming events here.
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