Another event this summer which we were due to attend in person, but due to Covid-19 it evolved into an online event, was Viti-Culture (9 July).
The event brings together growers and prospective growers, vineyards and wineries with a range of industry experts to provide advice and support. Here at Gullands we have been involved with the sale, purchase, business structuring and management of a number of vineyards in the South East and are happy to advise on a range of legal issues.
In and around Maidstone there are new vineyard plantings taking place this year and it feels exciting to be watching the growth of an innovative industry here on our doorstep.
According to Wines of Great Britain the sector will create 24,000 jobs in agriculture by 2040 (possibly earlier, but this factors in the Covid-19 Pandemic) and 7,300 of those jobs will be in Kent which is expected to be the largest wine producing county in the country. The organisation has also looked at the expansion of other New World wine regions and predicts production in the UK will increase to 40m bottles by 2040 with 45,000 acres under vines and 95% of wine production is expected to be in the South East (Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey).
Like many areas of horticulture, the UK wine industry is heavily reliant on non-UK labour, especially for seasonal work. The industry is working with education providers to encourage young people to consider a career in the sector.
Wine GB also launched a virtual English wine week this year (20th-28th June) which will engage directly with the public and encourage them to try a wider selection of wines. With over 500 vineyards there is now an incredible choice.
Vineyards have been reporting a rise in sales directly to consumers, whilst the shutdown of the hospitality sector has reduced b2b sales. The reopening of the hospitality sector in July will be universally welcomed and all producers will be hoping to maintain the interest of the public whose phenomenal support for shopping locally and buying directly from local producers has been a lifeline for many food and drink businesses.