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Demand for UK Land Soars Amid Viticulture Boom

Strutt & Parker's annual Viticulture Report, set to be unveiled during English Wine Week (15-23 June), reveals a remarkable £80m investment in the UK's burgeoning wine industry in 2023, pushing the decade-long investment total to nearly £570m.

The global wine industry witnessed a 10% decline in production last year, primarily due to extreme weather conditions and rampant fungal diseases, as reported by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). Conversely, UK wine production hit unprecedented levels, bolstered by favourable growing conditions, expanded vineyard acreage, and robust yields.

“This growth is largely driven by the UK's evolving climate and ongoing investments, both physical and intellectual, in our viticulture sector,” explains Nick Watson, head of viticulture at Strutt & Parker.

Interest from prospective new entrants and established businesses aiming to expand has surged, with inquiries surpassing last year's figures. While the UK remains a minor player in the global grape market—accounting for less than a tenth of a percent—it experienced faster growth than any major wine-producing nation in 2023.

The industry continues to draw substantial foreign investment, with US-based Jackson Family Wines being the latest prominent entity to venture into the UK market, joining the likes of Taittinger, Pommery, and Freixenet.

Climate change has rendered traditional wine regions around the globe increasingly challenging, whereas the UK's warmer temperatures have enhanced growing conditions, improving yields and fruit quality and expanding the range of viable grape varieties.

Investments in vineyard planting, infrastructure, and expertise are further cementing the UK's reputation for producing high-quality, internationally acclaimed wines.

“Jackson Family Wines’ acquisition of 26 hectares (64 acres) of undeveloped land in Essex's Crouch Valley last year, reportedly at a record price, highlights the UK's attractiveness as a viable climate hedge,” Watson notes.

Land values suitable for vineyards vary, with prices reaching—and occasionally exceeding—£74,000 per hectare (£30,000 per acre). Buyers predominantly target established wine regions in the southeast of England and East Anglia. The primary challenge remains the limited availability of purchasable land with optimal viticultural characteristics, with most transactions occurring off-market.

Recently, there has been increased activity in the market for established UK vineyards, with top properties fetching up to £123,500 per hectare (£50,000 per acre), a rise from £99,000 per hectare (£40,000 per acre) last year.

“The surge in inquiries from new entrants and established businesses alike reflects the maturing market. Although the UK remains a minor global grape producer, it has outpaced growth in all major wine-growing countries in 2023,” reiterates Watson.


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