The English wine industry is gaining recognition for its sparkling wines

The English wine industry is gaining recognition for its sparkling wines

Consolidation and a "few failures" in the English wine industry are likely, despite the country producing some of the world's best sparkling wine, a producer has argued.

During a seminar at the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) yesterday (21 May), Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down, said that now is the "most exciting" time for English wine, as new companies emerge. But, Thompson, a former global brand director at Heineken, said it had taken his company four years to make a profit, warning that "passion doesn't pay the bills".

He said he feared there would be a "quite a few failures" in the industry and later added he could see some consolidation in the next five years.

He urged English wine producers to differentiate themselves going forward.

"This marketplace already has some pretty good brands and there's another 20 due to hit the marketplace in the next 10 years," he said. "There will be less opportunity to be different." 

However, Thompson said that English sparking wine has an advantage over Champagne in the lack of rules governing its production. "Champagne has baggage," he said. "We don't have baggage, we have wings."

However, Jane Mohan, owner of Essex-based West Street Vineyard warned against the idea of English producers only being known for sparkling wine. "It would be a mistake to adapt a monoculture approach and just be known for one style of wine," she said. "We need to develop a regional style and shout very loudly about English wines and all its varieties."

Mark Driver, owner of the Rathfinney Estate, argued that England is producing "what is recognised as some of the best sparkling wine in the world". However, he bemoaned the lack of UK restaurants offering English wines. "It's just not available," he said.