Sparkling future for Welsh wine following strategy launch

A first-of-its-kind strategy has been launched to set the future of the Welsh wine industry into focus over the next twelve years and increase the sector’s current value by 10-fold to reach £100 million by 2035.

Developed at a pivotal time for Welsh vineyards, with the support of the Welsh Government’s Drinks Cluster, the industry-led strategy is designed to ensure Wales builds on its emerging reputation as an experimental producer of varying wines, following some impressive successes in recent years that have been rewarded with a number of international awards.

The new industry strategy, launched at the Coal Exchange Hotel celebrated Wales’ achievements over the past year, including Welsh wine sales which, alongside English wine, increased by 31.3% to 9.3 million bottles in 2021. With the strategy in place as a framework for growth, Wales will continue to forge its own path.

The event, which was hosted by Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, outlined five strategic pillars as paving the future for Welsh wine. These included a strong online presence, organisation, skills, wine tourism and Welsh wine identity and brand.

With over 30 vineyards now operating across the country, Wales’ status as an innovative producer of high-quality wine has gone from strength to strength thanks to its pioneering vineyard owners, the fantastic fruit that is grown as well as Wales’ distinctive microclimate and landscape.

There are many similarities to New Zealand which has gone from small scale to internationally renowned in the last 30 years overcoming similar climate and landscape challenges.

Discussing the development of the strategy, Fintan O’Leary, Managing Director of Levercliff who facilitate the Welsh Drinks Cluster, said: “This strategy has been built by the vineyards themselves over a number of years and has been supported by the Welsh Government, as well as some of our regular contributors and partners – it’s been a real collaborative effort and sets out a clear vision for the industry’s future potential and how that vision will be delivered.

“One of the core aims is to encourage vineyards and industry stakeholders to explore their Welsh provenance further, as it is the microclimates and landscapes that puts Wales in the advantageous position of producing award-winning red, rosé, white and sparkling wines, all of which have led to global recognition for many vineyards across the country and there is definitely potential to expand on this further.”

With YouGov research showing that 87% of UK holiday-goers think that their food and drink experiences are important while on holiday, and 62% believing it is important that the food and drink provided is sourced locally, Welsh vineyards will make the most of the connection between Welsh food and wine and strengthen their relationship with the tourism sector.

Alongside being called upon to explore Welsh identity, provenance and tourism further, the Drinks Cluster announced working on the delivery of viniculture and viticulture training (courses focussing on the production of wine) in partnership with Food Skills Cymru, Tyfu Cymru, Sussex-based Plumpton College and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust as part of a long-term strategy to strengthen and upskill the talent currently in the Welsh wine sector, and to encourage new talent into this unusual Welsh industry.

By exploring these five key strategic pillars further, Welsh wine experts also predict from past success that wine sales and revenue from cellar door activities – including wine tasting events, vineyard tours and overnight experiences – will bring in a revenue of £14.4 million by 2035.

The tourism impact on Welsh GDP, partnered with Welsh wine’s popular growth is predicted to bring in a further £75.9 million by 2035.

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd said: “I’m pleased to see Wales’ first Wine Strategy published, which sets out how the industry can grow over the coming years.  It’s important to note this is the industry’s strategy, put together by them which is good to see.  The Welsh Wine industry has tremendous potential to build on what has already been achieved and the strategy will help it do that.”