In 2020, half of all English wine sales were direct – from the cellar door or producers’ websites – but Thorpe says feedback from producers he has spoken with is that “in 2021, they too experienced tremendous growth.”
The figures build on a very successful 2020 for the UK wine industry, when sales rose 30% to 7.1 million bottles.
Nyetimber, one of the pioneers of the English wine renaissance, said sales of its sparkling wines hit record highs in 2021, up 55% on the previous year. The producer, headquartered in West Sussex, also achieved record production in 2021 and says it is on track to make 2 million bottles of sparkling wine a year by 2030.
Thorpe refrained from predicting we could experience a shortage of English wine this summer, saying historic bumper harvests like the 2018 vintage, in which enough grapes were picked to produce 13million bottles of wine, mean some producers still hold reserves.
“A shortage is a bit exaggerated. While sales are growing strongly, production is lumpy because it is very dependent on the vintage; and if you average the sales over the last four years and the production over the last four years, there is more production.
But individual producers like Harrow & Hope in Buckinghamshire, which is owned by Henry Laithwaite, often run out of certain cuvées. And others say their wine is already so scarce it’s sold on allocation.