English Vineyards for sale – How tempted should you be?
A recent email that popped in to my in-box was ‘A pair of English vineyards for sale which offer the dream of a new life in the country‘ which was a very interesting read on the Country Life website and got me thinking and wanting to share with readers why such a purchase not only offers a glorious lifestyle, but also an exciting and increasing in popularity business opportunity.
Some readers will know that I not only run this news channel for the UK property industry, I also run a very similar channel for the Champagne & Sparkling Wine sector of which English Fizz plays a very prominent role. I have travelled to many vineyards globally and met some wonderful people involved in the world of making fizz of which many lay within our own country and their reputation is now growing on a global scene.
Did you know that within the English wine industry there are over 500 commercial vineyards operating from within England and Wales with many new wineries opening each year and currently the production of wine stands at over 4 million bottles a year. English wines are now seen as a trend over what many would have said was a joke a generation or so ago, they are exported globally, feature on many wine lists of many famous restaurants and have received prestigious awards and trophies outshining Champagne frequently.
The other factor to consider is that England compared to many other famous wine regions such as Champagne will be very economically priced compared to their competitors regarding land, prices can reach over €1,000,000 per hectare in areas like Champagne / Prosecco to purchase land that has rights to grow vines whereas back home land can be as little as £6-10,000 an acre. As the global warming debate continues we have nonetheless seen a slightly warmer temperature average in the UK that many say has left the Champagne region and travelled up towards Southern England. With the added bonus that soil / chalk soil is in some areas of England similar to Champagne then it makes for an interesting conversation where people should be investing money for production of sparkling wine – France or England?
For sure, England as some way to go in order to build a global reputation anywhere near Bordeaux, Champagne, Prosecco, Cava though it is certainly on its way with something like 25% of production now being exported.
Sales are expected to grow, some folk will be putting this on the Brexit effect in that many consumers from England will put preference to English wines over those from Europe, though purely on the merit of the quality of wines we are producing, demand is likely to increase. The beauty of wine, in most situations, is that it brings people together and English wines are embraced globally with many relationships and skill sharing taking place between nations, indeed some wine makers here at home are ex Champagne makers! Some Champagne labels have even been investing in land in Southern England for sparkling wine production and have released new labels. Not sure I agree with Tim Martin’s view to not stock European wines any longer within his pub chain Wetherspoon, as our European neighbours produce outstanding wines too, but this again is another potential plus factor for English wine.
What does it take to be a wine maker?
It really depends on the scale of the operation you have in mind. You can simply trial and error a mini vineyard and experimentation may give a few hundred bottles which you can have prepared for you via a local winery or you can go the full monty as such and fork out a few £million to research consultants/advisers, best land, the best production team, the best wine equipment and then have a little patience whilst vines grow and wine production takes place.
Best thing to do is to test things out by tasting / purchasing English wines especially if you have yet to do so. There are vineyards spread out across the country and you will likely find that a search on Google will show you that you have one only a short drive away from you. Find out for yourself just how good they really are…
Examples of vineyards to visit:
Cornwall: Camel Valley Vineyard
Sussex: Fox & Fox
Essex: Dedham Vale Vineyard
South Staffordshire: Half Penny Green Wine Estate
Gloucestershire: Poulton Hill Estate