England finds its Sparkle

The announcement was made at a party at the British ambassador’s residence where the 2008 Classic Cuvée was served to approximately 1,000 people. Nyetimber has also been served at receptions by the Queen, and President Obama drank it at 10 Downing Street on his first official visit to the UK in 2009.

Camel Valley in Cornwall already exports to Japan. Winemaker Sam Lindo says: “Our largest export is to Japan. Wine is greatly appreciated in Japan along with products of English provenance, so a great combination. We also export to Singapore and Hong Kong. Around Europe it is mainly direct to restaurants and small shops.

“One of our most important wines we produce is our sparkling rose. It is made in a style that is not achievable in other parts of the world and we have won best rosé sparkling in the world three times, once in the International Wine Challenge.

“We have a reactionary approach to exporting. When people enquire we make a decision based on stocks and ease of shipping/customs etc,” he says.

“Most of our enquiries are as a result of winning major international competitions so it is mainly serious wine people who want to taste the winners. This is normally combined with places that like English things – Japan, Singapore,” he says.

“At the moment we are exporting to easy places where people already want the wine. What is really important is that English wine continues to be compared with Champagne in terms of quality and price. The perception in England is they are a similar price and just as good as Champagne. I believe that we can make not only unique but better sparkling wine than other regions we might compete with, such as Australia, Spain and Italy. This is important as our yields are too low to compete on price,” says Lindo.

Ridgeview in Sussex exports about 20% of its production. The family-run company has won 200 medals and 29 trophies in international competitions. The most important in terms of its export profile was the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2010 when Ridgeview was the first non-Champagne in the history of the awards to win the Best Sparkling Wine Trophy.

Mardi Roberts says: “At Ridgeview we made a positive decision three years ago to develop an export market for our wines which was in part due to the high number of enquiries we were receiving from abroad, but also due to the increasing production of sparkling wines in England, which would begin to hit the domestic market from 2013 onwards. 

“This was despite continuing to receive extremely high demand for our wines domestically. We feel there is a huge marketing benefit to be able to show a healthy export demand for our product.

“We have representation in Australia, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the US (New York),” she says.

“It has been relatively straightforward for us as, in most cases, we have been actively sought out by more than one importer/distributer from each of the above countries and therefore it has just been a case of choosing the partner we felt was right for us, which is extremely important. Some are large players in their market, others more niche.