Waitrose has planted 50 per cent more vines at its vineyard on the Leckford Estate in Hampshire as it seeks to tap into growing demand for English and Welsh wine.
The new vines will extend the production of Leckford Estate Brut, which is made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes. The Leckford Estate vineyard currently produces 30,000 bottles of fine fizz per year, depending on harvest conditions, and the new vines are expected to boost production to 45,000 bottles of Brut.
This year’s harvest will be ready to drink by 2021. The sparkling wine, which was launched with the maiden 2011 vintage, is made by winemakers Ridgeview in Sussex.
Waitrose reports that sales of English wine are soaring at the supermarket, up 67 per cent year on year. In 2016, Waitrose increased its range of English and Welsh wine by 25 per cent and introduced several new winemakers to the national retail market for the first time.
Becky Hull, English and Welsh wine buyer for Waitrose, said: "We have always put a great deal of time and energy into our English and Welsh wine range. Our customers have already given Leckford Brut a warm welcome, so we’re thrilled that we can invest in more vines on our Waitrose farm in Hampshire to make even more fantastic homegrown wine for the future."
Waitrose also pointed out that it is the first supermarket to export English wine to China. Four English sparkling wines are currently being sold through the Royal Mail store on Tmall, an online marketplace operated by Alibaba Group.