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Why Farmers Should Consider Diversifying Into Growing Grapes

English wine production is a steadily growing sector. Could growing grapes be the next land diversification idea for you?

In farm diversification, it all starts with the land. If you have agricultural land – in the right locations, with suitable topography, soil and climate – now could be the perfect time to make a move into English wine.

The momentum around English wine production has been building steadily for the last few years. The Farm Business Innovation Show is all about opening your eyes to innovative land diversification ideas, like growing grapes, that you may not have thought before.

With your FREE tickets to the show, meet the companies who could help you join this fast-growing sector. Perhaps growing grapes is the next big trend to invest in....

This grape vine with sun behind it shows off the majesty of the grapes

A Growing Industry: Brexit Breaks the Mould

According to Wine GB, the UK wine industry is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the UK! In fact, over 800 vineyards are already established, an expected 2 million vines are to be planted this year, and output is set to increase to 10 million bottles by 2020 (a 66 percent increase compared to 2017).

This comes as no surprise, considering direct farm subsidy payments are set to reduce after 2021, due to Brexit (read more about this, here). This means that farmers are looking at additional income streams to keep farms sustainable, and pass them on in good financial health. According to the NFU’s 2016 to 2017 report, over 60 percent of farms have already diversified in some way, and those farmers choosing to plant a proportion of their land to vines are providing longevity and a multi-generational business.

Due to this, even further in the future, grape growing projections don’t slow down. In fact, it is predicted that UK sales will reach £1 billion by 2040 - that’s 40 million bottles of wine!

This just goes to show that the work put in by some of the early pioneers is clearly starting to pay off. Medals from numerous international wine competitions, and acclaim from respected journalists and wine experts, shines the spotlight on our home-grown product. Could you be part of that boom?

English Grape Growing: the Challenger to Champagne

Vinescapes has done some research behind the growth of the English wine industry, carried out in conjunction with the University of East Anglia. They identified nearly 35,000 hectares of prime viticultural land for new and expanding vineyards within the UK (see research here).

Some of this land even rivals the Champagne region of France in terms of viticultural quality and climatic suitability. This explains why Champagne houses, like Taittinger and Vranken-Pommery, are already investing in land in England to grow premium quality grapes, and make English sparkling wine.

This man pouring wine is providing everybody with wine to taste

Growing Grapes in Suffolk: a Case Study

Many farmers have already made the move, and one of these is Scarff Farms in Suffolk. A few years ago, James and family decided that they needed to do something differently. After comparing their farm’s future with and without a vineyard, in 2017, they decided to go for it and haven’t looked back since!

Their first crop is due this year, after planting vines in 20 acres of their large farm. They’ve found that utilising this land, compared to crops, will reap benefits for the farm for years to come.

One of our speakers at the Farm Business Innovation Show, who is also harnessing this new trend, is Lord Carnarvon, the owner of Highclere Castle. With such extensive land, providing scope for the fantastic set of Downton Abbey, he’s had the opportunity to diversify in a number of ways. Specifically, his wall vineyard is just one of his few diversification choices, showing just how feasible English wine is.

How to Grow Grapes on Your Land

There are a number of practical questions you may want to know before you take the plunge into this lucrative diversification option. For example, you may be wondering how fast do grape vines grow? Or, if you just want to take this up as a hobby, you may even ask how to grow grapes in your backyard!

At the Farm Business Innovation Show, you’ll find out everything you need to know about growing grapes in the UK. Whether it be:
  • Growing grapes in pots;
  • Growing grape vines in greenhouse;
  • Growing grapes from seed;
  • Or even how to grow grapes from cuttings.

Whatever your question, the Farm Innovation Show will help! With your FREE tickets to the show, you’ll get the chance to hear, from Lord Carnarvon himself, about how he’s diversified into new ventures, including grapevines. You’ll also get the chance to meet our fantastic exhibitors, Vinescapes, Vinecare UK, Vitifruit Equipment, and Vitikit, who can advise you with the tools and knowledge needed to grow grapes on your land.

This grape vine with purple grapes in a sunny country is absolutely filled with fruit

Keep it in the Family

Diversifying with a vineyard can be a financially astute move for farmers, as they already have the key ingredient - the land. Next comes the business plan, which is where Vinescapes and the Farm Business Innovation Show can help.

From concept to delivery, Vinescapes make sure your English wine business plan is fully informed, risk managed, and sustainable. For those looking for an enjoyable family venture, running a vineyard and winery ticks a lot of boxes!

Get your FREE tickets to the show to meet Vinescapes, and many more grape growing companies who can take you through every step of the way. We, and Vinescapes, look forward to welcoming you through the NEC Birmingham doors on 6th & 7th November - see you there!

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