East Anglian wine makers say 'peak prosecco' could help domestic producers
PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:02 11 June 2018
East Anglian wine producers have poured cold water over the notion that the UK has reached a "peak" in sparkling wine sales.
Data from accountancy group UHY Hacker Young showed UK sales of prosecco, cava and their ilk rose by 5% in 2017, the smallest increase in six years.
However, producers in this region feel demand is still strong – and say there could be a boost to English sparkling wine if interest in European varieties goes flat.
According to data from Nielsen, sparkling wines have a 12.1% market share of all wine sales – up 9.5% in the year to March 24 2018, and worth £862.8m annually.
Broadland Wineries in Cawston has seen strong growth in prosecco sales over the past year – with one of its brands, R&R, recently going on sale in 200ml bottles on Greater Anglia trains.
But Simon Oastler, market and category insight manager, said prosecco’s repositioning in the market as a “everyday treat” could affect its appeal.
While the higher price point of UK sparkling wines may limit sales, he said any movement away from prosecco could open the door for producers.
“As supply increases over time I would expect English and Welsh sparkling and still wine sales to continue to grow. Their ability to call out their English and Welsh origins is a strong suit and is currently allowing them to command premium pricing.”
Lee Dyer, owner of Winbirri Vineyard in Surlingham, saw like-for-like sales of his sparkling wine rise by 400% between 2016 and 2018 – his stocks ran dry in 2017 after the unprecedented popularity of the first bottling.
He believes the suggested “peak” in sales is more likely to apply to “lower quality” products.
“I would not say the assessment applies to English sparkling wine because that is growing astronomically. Most local producers will tell a similar story – they are seeing an upward trajectory,” he said.
“People continue to go out and look for the better quality sparkling that is available.”
Hannah Witchell and husband Ben, who run Flint Vineyard in Earsham near Bungay, are in the process of bottling their first batch of sparkling wine.
She feels English sparkling wine, with a strong production base in Kent and Sussex, has already “proved its point” to the domestic market.
“Anecdotally I have heard that sparkling wine is still popular and people are very excited that we are producing one,” she said.
“We certainly feel there is a market for it. We are focusing on still wine, but it will be good for us to have a sparkling in our range.”
Another south Norfolk wine producer, Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard, has also branched out into sparkling wine this year with its Horatio brand, launched in the spring.