Nyetimber owner predicts English sparkling wine production will double by 2030

A leading English sparkling wine producer has predicted that the county’s production levels will double in the next decade.

Nyetimber currently produces around 1 million bottles per year, and owner Eric Heerema expects that to double to 2 million by 2030. The firm recent ramped up its capacity by planting 195,000 vines on a 42-hectare site in Kent.

Heerema predicts that the overall industry will produce at least 20 million bottles a year by 2030, which is double the current output.

He said: “Several Champagne houses have indeed already established their sparkling wine production in England, and I expect that we have only seen the early beginnings of that so far.

“With global warming making Champagne production ever more challenging in the coming decades, and given the high quality reputation of English sparkling wine this tendency is very likely to not only continue but rather to intensify.”

Champagne Houses like Taittinger have snapped up vineyards in Kent and Hampshire in recent years.

The English wine industry currently employs 2,500 people, and Heerema believes that will also double over the next 10 years.

English Wine Week begins on Saturday, and the Nyetimber founder is bullish about the sector’s future prospects.

“English sparkling wine has already proven its quality potential and as ever more producers apply professional and high quality standards, this tendency will strengthen,” he said. “The establishment of well reputed Champagne houses in England to produce their own English sparkling wine is further proof that it is not just a trend but has come to stay and will ever be more recognised internationally.”

However, he warned against using a catchy category name such as Prosecco, or dividing the industry into appellations by county, as he feels that “English sparkling wine” can thrive as a strong generic brand in its own right.

Heerema said: “For now English sparkling wine is successful and becoming a category name in its own right

“To have a bespoke name is sometimes a benefit, and there might eventually be one for English Sparkling Wine, but we shouldn’t rush the process because there is still too much of a lack of uniformity in geographic locations, production methods and level of development amongst producers,' he said.

“Nyetimber has vines planted in three counties because the microclimate, soil and local landscape suit our quality requirements for viticulture and winemaking. It therefore seems to be too restrictive to define an appellation system based on county boundaries and too early to establish other regional delineations. 

“For the latter we need a longer track record of wine characteristics, ageing potential and style.”