English wine producers urge Chancellor to freeze wine duty

A dozen English wine producers have signed a letter to the Chancellor Philip Hammond and Envrionment Secretary Michael Gove calling for a freeze on wine duty in next month’s Budget.

The letter from the 12 Wine & Spirit Trade Association members argues that the tax burden placed on producers is restricting growth and damaging rural communities.

Sam Linter, managing director and head winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex, said: “We find it difficult to understand why the Chancellor insists on continuing to tax so heavily this great British product.

“We can now proudly say that our wines are competing with some of the best all over the world, and it is disappointing that we are being taxed so heavily at home.”

Mark Driver, co-founder and co-owner of Rathfinny Wine Estate, added: “When two thirds of wine produced in England is sparkling wine and it’s widely perceived as some of the best in the world, it seems illogical that the duty on sparkling wine is 28% higher than still wine.

“In fact, it’s the most harshly treated of all alcohol categories.

“We support the WSTA’s call to freeze wine duty and we’d like to see the government support our growing domestic sparkling wine industry by harmonising the rate of duty between still and sparkling wine.”

The drinks industry has already faced one duty hike this year and further rises are expected in November’s Budget announcement.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said more government support could help the English wine industry to emulate the success enjoyed by New Zealand producers in the last 30 years.

“English wine is a great British success story and we are now producing top quality wines for the home market as well as to export,” he said.

“The UK has the potential to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand’s trailblazing wine success story, yet the industry is being held back by the staggering amount of duty it has to pay.

“By adding to its already high tax bill this year, the Chancellor will hurt the industry's ability to grow, invest export and create jobs.”

The other signatories to the letter are Chapel Down, Digby Fine English, Exton Park, Furleigh Estate, Gusbourne, Hatch Mansfield, Hattingley Valley, Hush Heath, Nyetimber and Ridgeview.