Price of English sparkling wine must drop

The average price of English sparkling wine will drop with volume sales set to increase fivefold over the next five years, according to leading producers.

Pioneers in the category that is rivalling Champagne at international competitions predict sales will rise from 1 million bottles this year to 5 million by 2018.

But Frazer Thompson, chief executive at Chapel Down, said: “There isn’t a market for 5 million bottles priced at between £20 and £25 a bottle.

“Producers have to be realistic about the price. It sounds gloomy but I don’t feel all the plans being put forward are feasible.

“Up to now we’ve been in the lovely position of demand exceeding supply, but we’re nearing an explosion point with the volume quintupling in the next five years and we need to plan for that.

“We need to work more with the off-trade. There is no question that there is room for English sparkling wine priced at £35 to £40 a bottle, but there will be a rump between £15 and £20 in five years’ time and we need to plan for that.”

Industry consultant Mike Paul, speaking at the International Sparkling Wine Symposium at Denbies Vineyard in Dorking, Surrey, added: “It’s hard to find any [English sparklers] selling at under £20 a bottle and the average price is more like £25. Prosecco is nearer £10 and Cava somewhere below that.”

Ian Kellett, owner of Hambledon Vineyard, said: “English sparkling wine is perfectly positioned to take up the projected growth in sparkling wine consumption that Champagne is unable to satisfy.

“There will be a range of producers in the market and we must see products on the shelf priced at £12 to £14 a bottle.

CVC has been in development for two years and will seek to ensure that all members meet ownership and minimum capacity requirements. They will be audited to guarantee they meet key membership criteria around wine quality and technical, ethical and environmental matters.

“We also need products at the other end of the market like Nyetimber. Champagne is in the worst financial position it’s been in and a number of houses are in a very difficult position.

“There has been quite a big increase in prices of the Grandes Marques from around £21.99 to between £34 and £35 and prices will continue to rise – vacating the price bracket underneath. This is a great opportunity for the UK sparkling wine business.”

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