Chapel Down Wine Tasting

It was a harvest to remember for English winemakers like Chapel Down

Wine GB has reported the UK’s harvest in 2023 was its “largest ever”, with the number of bottles produced predicted to smash the previous record, set in 2018, by 50%.

The “miracle harvest” meant winemakers were set to produce an estimated 20 million-22 million bottles this year, Wine GB said. This compares with the 13.1 million bottles produced from 2018’s harvest.

Despite “a lacklustre cold summer”, year-round conditions and a warm September combined to bolster yields across the country, with East Anglia, the south east and Wessex leading the way as vines planted in previous years came to fruition.

In total, 30,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested across vineyards in England and Wales in 2023.

Vineyard hectarage now in full production reached some 3,230 hectares, up 151% from the 2,138 hectares in production in 2018.

Chardonnay, pinot noir, meunier and bacchus varieties – which make up more than 75% of UK planted area – “performed exceptionally well”, Wine GB said. The four varieties had an average yield of 10 tonnes per hectare across all vineyards, and 15.9 tonnes per hectare in the top 25% of vineyards.

The 2023 harvest would produce “a vintage to remember” said Wine GB report author, viticultural consultant and master of wine Stephen Skelton.

“The excellent yields are attributed to not only the near perfect weather for grapes at key times of the growing season, but also comes on the back of more hectares than ever before coming into production,” he said.

WineGB CEO Nicola Bates added: “There was a silver lining to our miserable summer, and that is a fantastic season for wine.

“UK consumers are drinking more and more home produce and at the same time exports are going up, especially in Scandinavia and Japan. We look forward to having more wine to present to our growing consumer base.”

Demand for English wine continues to grow, with market-leader Chapel Down reporting a 21% increase in sales for the six months ended 30 June.