The United Kingdom has always been famous for the beer and whisky, but did you know they also make wines, and quite good ones? Traditionally fighting against a cold climate unsuitable for vineyards, the English wine industry has been favored in recent years by warmer summers due to global warming.
Although England is a great consumer of wine, is a very small producer, to the point that wine sales in England and Wales combined, that only represent the 1 percent of the domestic market in the UK.
In recent years, English sparkling wine has begun to emerge as the type of wine that receives the most attention in the UK, and an example of quality of sparkling wine was the Chardonnay 2003 from the winery Theale, beating the best champagnes and sparkling wines in the world in a competition held in France in 2007.
Geography of English wine
The limestone soils of Kent and other parts of southern England are suitable for growing the grapes used to produce sparkling wine, especially as the weather, at least in recent years has been warm enough to also add quality.
According to the latest official figures provided by the Wine Standards Board, more than 350 vineyards are producing wine in England. The largest of these is Denbies Vineyards in Surrey, which since 2007 has 1.07 square miles of vineyards, but Chapel Down wines - has the largest winery and a major production.
Two notable English vineyards, Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire, established in 280 thousand square meters, is one of the leading producers of award-winning wines in England.
For its part, Sharpham Vineyard in Devon, combines traditional and new world techniques to produce the fresh taste of white wines.
Yearlstone Vine, near Exeter has won many awards and with 37years of life, is one of the oldest surviving vineyards in England.
Keep in mind also that the expression "English wine" is a generic term commonly used in India which means "Western liquor."
History of English wine
It was the Romans who introduced wine making in the United Kingdom, those who tried to grow grapes in northern Lincolnshire.
From the Middle Ages, the English market was the main client rosé wines from Bordeaux, France, aided by the Plantagenet reign, which saw England at the same level of as the large provinces of France.
In 1703, the Methuen Treaty imposed high tariffs on French wine. This led the British to become consumers of sweet wines such as sherry, port and Madeira wine from Spain and Portugal, which in contrast to regular wines, did not decomposed after long voyages to England.
Just when English wine was beginning to recover from the epidemic of phylloxera and mildew in mid-nineteenth century, brought by the explorers from America, the English wine trade suffered a severe blow.
In 1860, the British government supported free trade and drastically reduced the tax on wine imported, from 1 shilling to 2 pence, a decrease of the 83 percent; therefore the English wine was out of competition with foreign products that could be sold at lower prices to end customers.
The twilight of British wine tradition, going back to the early Roman explorers came to an end with the beginning of the First World War, due to the need for food crops had priority over the wine production.
So for the first time in 2000 years, the English wines were no longer produced in the county of Wessex, or the rest of the country, which led many high class people start drinking wine from many parts of Europe such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
It was not until 1936 that the famous botanist and winemaker George Ordish replanted vines in Wessex in southern England, which led to a rediscovery of English wines and winemaking, but in industry terms, the English wine was revived in the 1970s.
The growth of English wine has had its ups and downs since then. Plantations increased in the first decade of the century, aided by the increasing success of English sparkling wines.
In this new millennium, several considerations have led to major plantations have been happening all over the south, with a growing number of farmers growing vines with contracts for some of the principal English wine producers.
One is that farmers are looking at the potential benefits of increased cultivation of vines because the returns per ton of grapes are superior to traditional crops.
For example, a field of wheat could produce 3 tons per hectare in about 120 pounds per ton. In contrast, the cultivation of the vine may reach 3 to 4 tons per hectare by about 950 to 100 thousand pounds per ton.
Another explanation for the growth of viticulture in the UK is the increase in demand for local foods and the desire of consumers to buy local wines at lower prices. In that sense, the appearance of websites and online offerings has helped a lot.
Would you like to compare english sparkling wines? So we suggest you 2 different sparkling wines from the continental europe:
Moët&Chandon, one of the best champagne producers.
Gramona is a great sparkling's producer from Spain.