Vicky Bullen, CEO of brand strategy agency Coley Porter Bell, discusses the growth of the UK wine market and how Brexit will affect what’s available to the consumer.

Propose at a dinner party that the UK is famous for wine and one will be met with disingenuity. Famously good at drinking, importing and selling the stuff, perhaps. But to quote Peter Ustinov: “I imagine hell like this: Italian punctuality, German humour and English wine.”

While the former two stereotypes will likely never change, English wine has grown up fast, from passable to drinkable to excellent in but two decades.

The UK is the sixth largest wine market in the world and the second largest trader by volume. We quaff about 21.3 litres of vino each per year – but very little of it comes from these shores. Globalisation has made access to Chilean Merlot or Kiwi Sauvignon as easy as turning on a tap. Australia, and perhaps surprisingly, America, dominate our national palate. And, naturally, we drink a staggering amount of European wine. But that could change.

Crashing out of the EU without a deal could limit access to European markets and increase the price of imported. UK Merchants are overstocking mostly French and Spanish plonk in preparation for that very situation. Bu with every problem comes opportunity. If imported wine costs more, because of increasing tariffs or exchange rate fluctuations, British winemakers can look to grow their domestic market share, and perhaps command higher prices.

Though, it has to be said that, at present, the UK has nowhere near the capacity to quench our collective thirst. Some 3.86m bottles of sparkling and still wine were released for sale in 2017, a year-on year increase of 64 percent. By comparison, France produces between seven and eight billion bottles annually. There are single vineyards in Bordeaux that produce over double in UK’s output.

This was originally published in FMCG CEO Magazine.

Read more in the original article here.