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 land planted with vineyards increasing by 140% and production now at an impressive average of 3.77 million bottles a year.
An increasing proportion of this is sparkling wine – currently 66% of English wine is 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.
Yet still, only 1% of sparkling wine consumed in the UK is produced here, so there is huge potential for this industry to continue to grow, and to thrive.
Strutt & Parker can help with all aspects of buying, setting up, growing and selling vineyards and viticultural land.
Your local viticultural experts
Selling viticultural land
There are certain essential qualities that land must possess in order to be suitable for growing vines. If land is not currently being used for viticulture, our experts are able to identify whether land would be suitable for vines, and can market the land accordingly.
Simpsons Wine Estate, Kent
Nigel Porter, Partner in Strutt & Parker’s Canterbury Land Management team, was the first agent to market UK land specifically for viticulture. As soon as he was asked to sell the land at Barham in 2011, Porter 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,’ he explains. ‘We were the first firm to do that.'
Lower Eastcott Farm, Devon
Strutt & Parker has been instructed to sell Lower Eastcott Farm, an attractive farm and vineyard with good income potential. The current owners created a 6 acre vineyard and modern winery which has been successfully run over the last 9 years and has produced international award winning English sparkling and still wines. The brand is sold in local Marks & Spencer and Waitrose shops.
Buying viticultural land
For clients looking to set up, or expand, a vineyard, our experienced agents are able to search across the South of England to find suitable land; whether currently being used for arable, or already established as vineyards. 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,’ says Nigel Porter, Partner in Strutt & Parker’s Canterbury Land Management Department. ‘We did an awful lot of soil tests.’ 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 Viticultrue 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 is now well set to become one of the largest single 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 develop restaurants and visitor centres, as well as assisting with planning and rating, and providing extensive property advice.
Nyetimber, West Sussex
One of the longest established English sparkling wine is Nyetimber, which has the country’s largest wine estate, with 177 hectares of vineyards in West Sussex 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 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
Knowledge & research
Bubbling under: how Strutt & Parker helped Simpsons Wine Estate enter the English wine industry
In 2012, winemakers Charles and Ruth Simpson purchased a slice of Kent countryside through Strutt & Parker. Now, their plans to produce English sparkling wine are coming to fruition.
How easy is it to plant my own vineyard?
With interest in winemaking growing in the UK, Nicholas Watson, from Strutt & Parker’s consultancy team in Lewes, takes a look at what you need to create your own vineyard. If you would like to join the dozens of people with their own vineyard in the UK, here are a few things you’ll need to know.
English Wine Production - The grape leap forward
The news that French wine producers, Taittinger has purchased land in Kent in order to produce English sparkling wine not only marks a coming of age for a once-niche product, it’s proof that vineyards can be a viable option for landowners across southern England.
Selling a farm – the importance of preparing for the legalities
It is vital that farmers and landowners are prepared when it comes to selling their farm, if they want the process to go as smoothly as possible.
Brexit and agricultural policy
The vote to leave the European Union has created the first opportunity in over 40 years for the UK to design its own agricultural, and environmental, policies.
How helpful was the Spring Budget for rural businesses and farming?
There has been much talk about the impact of business rate revaluations, so people were waiting with interest to hear what concessions Chancellor Philip Hammond would offer in his Spring Budget.