Talking Wine – April 2019

Production of wine in Great Britain went up over 160% in 2018 as we all enjoyed a wonderful hot summer. The previous record harvest was in 2014 but this massively succeeded that . Wines of Great Britain chairman Simon Robinson said that 2018 will go down as the year that the English wine industry “came of age.” The vast majority of production took place in England, although production in Wales is growing rapidly too.

Wines of Great Britain estimates that the number of people employed by the industry rose from 2,000 in 2017 to around 3,500 in 2018. That figure is projected to increase to 24,000 by 2040.

“The industry is not only offering great career paths and creating many job opportunities, but providing a significant boost to rural employment and the local economy,” said Robinson.

So once again I say to the chancellor please encourage the UK by lowering taxes on wine and removing the extra tax on sparkling wine. It simply does not make sense !

It was quite a surprise to hear that Majestic are possibly dropping their name, closing stores and reemerging as Naked wines. Naked wines is a slightly gimmicky online brand which bought into Majestic some years ago and plan to create more pop ups as well as appearing at festivals and big public events rather than pay huge rent for 3000 sq ft warehousing. They want to concentrating on educating the public and “create an experience” according to,the Chief Executive Rowan Gormley. They will clearly also offer the online route .

Whilst delighted with their decision from a purely personal viewpoint I do believe that one to one contact , tasting and discussion still has a powerful position in the market place. Those who enjoy their wine and food tend to enjoy a relationship with their butcher, cheese or wine merchant – I believe in this human contact and encourage it.

However is it really a change of policy or are Majestic simply suffering from greedy landlords , excessive rates and high employment costs. In which case I have some sympathy. I suspect it is a good excuse to close some loss making stores but I am yet to be convinced that the Majestic brand is dead. It takes a long time creating a brand and they have been massively successful – this action may be the result of having to answer to shareholders!