19:55 GMT +307 December 2019
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    A racegoer drinks a glass of wine during Ladies day at Royal Ascot in Ascot, west of London on June 16, 2016.

    English Wine Industry Toasts to Groundbreaking Year, Defying Brexit Grape Gloom

    © AFP 2019 / ADRIAN DENNIS
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    Independent English fine wine producers can finally raise a glass to a record-breaking year, as they experience their highest ever turnover, bringing in US$169 million.

    Analysis carried out by Funding Options, an online business finance supermarket, found that the sector had 16 percent growth in 2016, and that more people plan to enter the industry, with a record 64 new producers obtaining a license for wine production in 2016.

    So why the rise in popularity for making and drinking English wine?

    Experts say it is down to a number of factors, including improved quality of the product and continuing popularity of boutique alcohol production seen in the rise of craft beers and gins, has helped the English wine sector to compete on the world stage. 

    ​In May 2017, Norfolk-based Winbirri Vineyards' Bacchus 2015 wine was named the world's best white wine, winning the Platinum Best in Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

    "The English wine industry is not only gaining traction amongst domestic consumers, but is now being ranked with wines from traditional white wine-producing countries such as France and Germany," Conrad Ford, founder of Funding Options, said in a recent interview.

    ​In December 2016, experts warned however, that the fine food and wine business in the UK could be hit hard by Brexit, and that business owners had already started to feel the impact of Britain's decision to leave the EU.

    The Fine Wine Importers that specialize in sourcing unusual wines from small producers, who employ traditional, natural or biodynamic methods, was one of the companies waiting for Brexit to hit. 

    "We have concerns that Brexit may make this trading relationship with the EU (and from our perspective, particularly France) more complex, with extra fees/tariffs involved, such as additional transportation charges and tariffs charged when leaving/entering the EU zone. This is of course just speculation and we sincerely hope that trade shall continue as normal given the demand for French wines in the UK and its benefit to the French economy," business owner Jerome Soucek told Sputnik in December 2016. 

    However, some people within the industry see the opportunity for vast expansion and growth despite Brexit.

    "English wine is a fast growing industry with bold ambitions to boost production and open up new export opportunities. It is on the way to emulating the global and long standing success of Champagne," WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said in a recent interview. 

    Related:

    English Wine Sees Opportunities as EU Competitors Fear Brexit Grape Depression
    Britain’s Fine Wine Business Could Taste Bittersweet After Brexit
    Brexit Blamed for Brits Drinking Less Fizz Over Festive Season
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    Brexit, profit, business, alcohol, wine production, winemakers, wine, UK Referendum, Britain, Europe, United Kingdom
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