According to a Press Release from Defra, sales of English and Welsh wine are predicted to be worth nearly £100 million in 2015. This appears to be based on the assumption that English (and Welsh) wine sales will total 5 million bottles this year. Based on the available data, is that a realistic estimate? Just how much were retail sales of English wine worth in 2014?.
Unfortunately, there is very little direct information available on the sales figures of English wine, so we’re currently reliant on using indirect methods. One constraint on which we do have information is the volume of wine produced. After a disastrous 2012 when production totalled only 7.8k hl, figures improved to a record 33.4k hl in 2013. 2014 wine production figures are not yet available but are expected to hit a new record, perhaps as high as 45k hl. This suggests that the average annual production over the past five years is ca. 28k hl or 3.7 million bottles.
In the all important sparkling wine category, producers will be laying down their wines for anything from 2-5 years before release. So, for example, the current release of the market leading Nyetimber Classic Cuvée is 2009. It therefore seems reasonable to use 3.7 million bottles as a an upper limit of sales in 2014, rather than the much higher wine production figures of 2013.
Another constraint is provided by information released by HMRC as to the volume of wine that has been released and on which duty has been paid. These figures therefore exclude exports and other duty-free sales. They have recently released data for 2014 (still subject to possible revision) putting the wine released figure at 19.4k hl, or 2.6 million bottles. So taken together the production and duty-paid figures imply English wine sales in 2014 of 2.6 – 3.7 million bottles.
An estimate of sales value can be made by assigning a sparkling / still wine split and an average retail sales price of each category. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve assumed that 2/3rds of sales were sparkling wine with an average retail price of £25 per bottle and that the remaining still wine sales achieved an average retail sales price of £12.5 per bottle. Based on these assumptions, the sales value of English wine in 2014 was somewhere between £54 million – £77 million.