The days when the words ‘English’ and ‘wine’ were rarely seen together are history.
The UK wine industry has been growing steadily over the past decade, with the amount of land planted with vines quadrupling since 2000 to around 3,500ha (8,650 acres). This equates to an estimated 17.5m vines based on a UK average of 4,400-5,500 vines planted per ha.
Production is now hitting in excess of 10m bottles a year, with 2018 production levels peaking at the equivalent of 13.1m bottles thanks to ideal weather conditions that summer.
A crop yielding 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) might be expected to produce 6,175 bottles of wine per ha (or 2,500 bottles/acre). This is based on an average juice yield of 62%, meaning each tonne of grapes produces 620 litres of grape juice, which equates to about 830 75cl bottles of wine.
An increasing proportion of production in the UK is sparkling wine – in 2018 72% of English wine produced was sparkling – due to a combination of factors including changing weather patterns, judicious planting in areas with the right soil and topography, increasing knowledge and professionalism in the production process, and a growing following among the press and public.
It is an industry with huge potential to continue to grow, and to thrive, particularly as businesses focus on increasing domestic consumption of English wines and growing direct sales to customer. Strutt & Parker can help with all aspects of buying and selling viticultural land, along with setting up, developing and growing vineyards and winery businesses.
Selling viticultural land
For reasons of confidentiality, many of the vineyards and wine businesses we sell transact off market and therefore do not appear on our website or on other property portals.
If you are interested in a vineyard or winery, or land suitable for viticulture, please email Nick Watson or send us a message via our website.
For further advice read: How to prepare for selling your vineyard.
Simpsons Wine Estate, Kent
Strutt & Parker’s Canterbury Land Management team was the first agent to market UK land specifically for viticulture. As soon as we were asked to sell the land at Barham in 2011, Strutt & Parker thought that it had the potential to become a vineyard. When we got the viticulturist’s report confirming that it did, we took the bold step of tailoring our marketing specifically at the wine industry through specialist media. We were the first firm to do that.
Lower Eastcott Farm, Devon
Strutt & Parker was instructed to sell Lower Eastcott Farm, an attractive farm and vineyard with good income potential. The owners had created a six-acre vineyard and modern winery which has produced international award-winning English sparkling and still wines. The brand is sold in local Marks & Spencer and Waitrose shops.
Buying viticultural land
There are certain essential qualities that land must possess in order to be suitable for growing vines.
For clients looking to set up, or expand, a vineyard, our experienced agents are able to search to find suitable land; whether it is currently being used for arable, or already established as a vineyard.
We can search out land that displays the right qualities: south-facing, sheltered slopes, less than 80 metres above sea level, and, crucially, with the right soil type.
In 2015, Strutt & Parker acted for Taittinger in the first purchase of land in the UK by a champagne house. They wanted land that was in an area accessible from France, had the right soil type and south-facing slopes, and was no more than 80 metres above sea level. All of these characteristics were present at Stone Stile, a former apple orchard that was surplus to requirements for the farmer. Domaine Evremond established 70 acres of vines in spring 2016, and Strutt & Parker is now advising on plans for a winery, restaurant and visitor centre.
Rathfinny Estate, Sussex
Mark Driver enjoyed a successful career in the City before choosing to fulfil his dream and establish his own vineyard and winery business. In 2011 Mark starting the search for suitable farms whilst studying Viticulture at Plumpton College. He engaged Strutt & Parker to assist in the search, and we found Rathfinny Farm in Alfriston for him. It is a picturesque farm nestled in the chalk hills of the South Downs. At over 600 acres it gave Mark the perfect location to build his business. Having found the farm, we also advised Mark on the purchase and negotiated the deal for him. It has now become one of the largest single-site vineyards in the country.
Business and property advice
As with any business, there are always ways to increase turnover and diversify the income streams on your vineyard.
Our experts have worked with clients to improve business performance through benchmarking, develop restaurants and visitor centres, as well as assisting with planning and rating, and providing extensive property advice.
Our specialist advisers carry out a wide range of other services including asset valuations, investment analysis and the brokering of grape contracts and long leases.
Nyetimber, West Sussex
One of the longest established English sparkling wine brands is Nyetimber, which has the country’s largest wine estate, with 1000 acres of vineyards in West Sussex, Kent and Hampshire. Over the years, Strutt & Parker has been instrumental in Nyetimber’s expansion, says Nick Watson, Land Management Partner at the Lewes office: negotiating the purchase of additional acres for vineyards, acquiring commercial buildings and the company’s London offices, securing planning consent for a state-of-the-art pressing centre, and providing architectural, listed buildings, rating and valuation advice. www.nyetimber.com
Ridgeview, East Sussex
The Roberts family, owners of Ridgeview vineyards and winery in Ditchling, East Sussex, have been awarded a long list of accolades for their sparkling wines. Ridgeview was founded in 1994 by Mike and Chris Roberts after they sold their IT business. Their daughter Tamara is now CEO and her husband Simon is Winemaker and Production Manager. Ridgeview has worked with Strutt & Parker whenever it has wanted to expand, whether that has involved buying more land or getting asset valuations to finance further investment. www.ridgeview.co.uk
Hattingley Valley, Hampshire
Strutt & Parker has assisted Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley, which was set up by Simon Robinson in 2008 as a diversification from traditional farming. A state-of-the-art winery was built there in 2010, and Hattingley is now the largest contract sparkling wine producer in the country, with 19 partner vineyards that entrust their grapes to its winery. Since the 2010 vintage, its cuvées, rosés and blanc de blancs have won many awards. www.hattingleyvalley.co.uk www.hattingleyvalley.co.uk