Pop, fizz, clink – uncorking a UK growth industry
English wine is a growing business, in every sense
It is not a new thing, as the Romans first introduced the vine to Britain in the first century AD and the Domesday book of 1085 records some 42 vineyards in England. But viticulture went into decline during the Middle Ages and it was not until the 1950s that the modern commercial wine industry was born.1
In recent years, the English wine industry has been booming. Our climate is now very similar to that of the Champagne region in France. Our English grapes and wines are now able to compete on the world stage, with some beating those of our European neighbour in blind tastings.
Hectarage planted with vines in Great Britain has grown by 150 percent in the past ten years and has tripled since 2000. In 2015, there were 502 commercial vineyards. Some 5.9 million bottles of wine a year were produced in Britain in 2017. And British wine production is predicted to reach some 40 million bottles a year by 2040.2
It has been very exciting for Hup to get involved in this industry during this time of growth. We have always looked for new and interesting wines to try. When we first moved to the Cotswolds, we were aware that there were several vineyards producing wine in the area. It was not until we visited our village shop that we realised that there was a vineyard just half a mile up the road from our house.
Poulton Hill Estate is a relatively recent addition to the group of English wine producers, being founded in 2010. In the short time that we have been involved with the vineyard, since first helping with a harvest in 2016, there has been huge growth and development: the range of wines has grown, with this year seeing the first red wine hit the shelves; the vineyard itself has grown, with more vines and new buildings for its staff; the vineyard’s wines have won numerous awards over the past two years; more stores, restaurants and pubs now stock products from Poulton Hill; and the vineyard Tours and Tastings have been established.
Our involvement has been to try to aid and support this growth. However big or small a business, the website needs to be professional looking and of a high quality or it is very easy for prospective customers to dismiss the business’s product as amateurish, whether this is correct or not. We wanted to create a new website for the vineyard that was as professional looking as the websites of the big wine producers all over the world, but also reflected that it was very much an English and a Cotswold vineyard.
It helped that we had been involved at the vineyard as volunteers before we were commissioned to undertake the web project. We knew the ethos and understood the values that Poulton Hill stood for. We had also worked to produce tasting cards for their wines and a promotional leaflet aimed at tourists and visitors to the area.
Working with the managers at the vineyard has also been very exciting for us at Hup. We have been able to be there at the start of some of their journeys, for example the development of the Bulari brand, witness the success of their first year of the award-winning Bacchus wine and taste the first bottles of their red wine. Being a local business, we have been able to meet on site far more and see and volunteer with some of the day-to-day vineyard tasks, from tucking in the vines to harvesting the grapes.
We are obviously invested in the success of all our clients, whether they are big software firms or smaller organisations. Our efforts and commitment to our clients is essential. But we have also become hugely personally invested in the vineyard and its success, because we feel that it is our local vineyard, our local wine. That is a lovely way to work.