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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has earned the wrath of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association after accusing companies that haven’t prepared for a no deal Brexit of an “ostrich in the sand” approach.

Speaking at Treasury questions in the House of Commons today, Hammond said: “Despite government’s attempts to engage with business there are still far too many businesses who have adopted the famous approach of the ostrich in the sand in relation to this eventuality and they are not taking precautionary actions to prepare for the possibility of a no deal exit.”

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale described the Chancellor’s remarks as “downright insulting”.

He said: “The government is pointing the finger at everyone but itself.

“Blaming businesses for not preparing is downright insulting, especially when they are expected to spend time and money with no clarity or confidence in the outcome.

“With just three days to go before the UK could be forced to leave the EU without a deal, many of our questions to government are still met with ‘we don’t know’ and new advice on how to manage a no-deal Brexit is too little, too late.

“Civil servants are listening and working hard to try and advise businesses, but government has led us to a cliff edge without a parachute.

“After well over a year of patience, businesses deserve a clear roadmap to plan for the future trading landscape.”

Denbies Wine Estate is expected to increase its winery workforce by a third by the end of 2019 due to an increase in production.

WineGB has announced that David Parkinson will be stepping down from the role of chief executive due to health reasons.

The Oxford Wine Company has taken on Nancy Gilchrist MW as a consultant for the business.

France has increased wine shipments to the UK by 30% as distributors stockpile cases in preparation for the fallout from Brexit.

Bordeaux wine exports to the UK grew 15% in value last year compared to the region’s overall global exports, which grew by just 3%.

Bancroft Wines has been appointed as the exclusive UK agent for Heartland Wines.

Aldi has turned to Devon to source its first English still wine and its Exquisite Collection Lyme Block will be released in time for summer.

Wines of Germany is extending its 31 Days of German Riesling focus tastings outside of London for the first time.

Chris Foss, founder and manager of Plumpton Wine Division, is to retire at the end of this academic year after 31 years of service with the college.

Five vineyards in the Surrey Hills area are linking together to form a new English wine region.

Robert Oatley Vineyards has appointed a UK-based business development manager to help grow the brand in the UK market.

Humble Grape has hit its crowdfunding target, enabling it to accelerate growth by opening one to two new sites each year.

Yalumba launches new range to celebrate Barossa varieties and blends

The Co-op is continuing its focus on different wine formats with the addition of a new 50cl bottle of Rioja Reserva.

Genesis Wines has boosted its South American collection with the addition of Tinto Negro from Mendoza.
The London-based Genesis will be the exclusive UK agent for the producer.

Majestic Wine has announced a 49% rise in sales at its French outlets as UK consumers turn to “Booze Cruises” to stockpile wine before Brexit deadline day.

Larkin Wines, a boutique Napa winery which specialises in premium wines priced around £70 per bottle, is set to launch a range of canned wines in the UK.

Kopke is releasing a white port, which is a blend of very old and rare wines from the last century.

Purato, the organic Sicilian brand by Stefano Girelli’s TWP Wines, has undergone a full makeover to celebrate its tenth birthday this year.

Sarah Jessica Parker is set to add wine to her diverse career portfolio, with her achievements to date spanning a range of industries including acting, perfume and shoes.

New York Wines will make a guest appearance and this year’s tasting of Oregon and Washington State Wines in London.

James Hocking, the ex-wine director at The Vineyard Cellars, has set up a new Californian-focused wine agency.

Simpsons’ Wine Estate and Roberson Wine are working together to launch four new English still wines.

A raft of wine regions will be represented at the London Wine Fair for the first time this year, while other countries are increasing their footprint at the event.

Portuguese DO wine imports to the UK grew 33.7% in value throughout 2018, driven by a 34% increase in volume sales.

Inverarity Morton is to be the exclusive distributor for a new “eco wine” commended by Sir David Attenborough.

Treasury Wine Estates is launching a brand called Embrazen into the UK market as it bids to win over more millennial consumers.

Berkmann Wine Cellars has appointed Emma Dawson MW as senior wine buyer.

Low-intervention wines will be the theme of this Spring’s Specialist Importers Trade Tasting (SITT) events, which take place later this month.