Vineyard and vines growing

Planting a Vineyard

There are currently around 2,000 ha (4,800 acres) of vineyards in the UK and this has increased by 140% in the last 10 years. There are about 700 vineyards (not all commercial) and 133 wineries, producing an average of around 5 million bottles a year.  The styles produced are:

  • Sparkling: 66%
  • Still White: 24%
  • Red/rosé: 10%

The likely growth to 2020:

  • Area under vine predicted to grow 50% to 3,000 ha (7,200 acres)
  • Production to increase to around 10-12 million bottles
  • After 2020 – who knows!
  • Sparkling wine sector continues to grow year on year. Most of the recent plantings are for sparkling wine production (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier account for over 50% of total varietal plantings).
  • Sparkling wine alone, in the next three years, is likely to be 5+ million bottles giving this sector a retail sales value of some £100 million.

The reason for this growth can be mainly attributed to:

  • A more favourable climate for wine growing and the belief that global warming will continue
  • Awards: The huge success of England’s wines in international competitions
  • Favourable press coverage: English wines are now a frequent good news story
  • Sales and market demand: Sparkling wines achieve similar prices to Champagne (and sell well
  • Expansion of large, commercial vineyards, with much investment
  • Interest from consumers in buying local (food and wine)  and the environmental benefits
  • The serving of English and Welsh wines at prestigious events such as the Royal wedding, the Queen’s jubilee, the London Olympics and Henley Royal regatta.
  • Interest in Cool Climate wines
  • Education and training - skills have improved

However, the UK remains a marginal and challenging ‘Cool Climate’ for grape growing and wine production and there are many factors to consider before planting a vineyard:

  • The importance of selecting the right site, which will influence profitability
  • The costs of establishing and managing a vineyard
  • The likely income from grapes or wine
  • The styles of wines to be produced and their markets

It is very important to get the right site for a vineyard as it is one of the major Influences of yield and profit.

Considerations are:

  • Temperature/sun, an important factor for yield as influences bud initiation, fruit set and ripening
  • Rainfall (around 450-500 mm, seasonal required, but excess can be a problem
  • Altitude – the maximum is considered to be about 120m and is has the effect of lowering temperature, and suffering from increased wind.
  • Aspect - south facing for maximising sunlight interception, drainage of air and water.
  • Wind exposure – this can be cooling as well as damaging to vine shoots.
  • Drainage
  • Frosts

For more information:

  • WineGB is currently compiling a comprehensive booklet entitled ‘Planting a Vineyard’. This will be free to WineGB members, or can purchased by non-members. If you would like notification when the booklet is published or to reserve a copy, please email Jo Cowderoy, General Secretary on [email protected]
  • ‘Wine Growing in Great Britain’ by Stephen Skelton MW, for useful information facts and figures.
  • Dr Alistair Nesbitt for detailed climate information and site selection.
  • Also see the Recommended Reading page on this website.