MP renews call for Government to champion English wine
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has again urged the Government to get behind English wine producers.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate at Parliament on the English wine industry yesterday (Wednesday 16 November), Mr Herbert stressed the importance of the Government taking further action in a number of key areas to support the industry.
These include reviewing procurement laws to ensure a wide variety of English wines are served at government functions both at home and abroad, cutting the rates of duty on wine, and committing to holding a second wine industry round-table to consider how to further grow the sector.
Mr Herbert said: “It seems absolutely obvious to me that the Government should showcase English wines at its major events. I ask the Minister though to look at the procurement rules to ensure that the opportunity can be given to a variety of English sparkling wines to be showcased, not just one or two.”
In response George Eustice, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, agreed with the need for the Government to champion English wines, and said that he would “take on board” Mr Herbert’s call for a wide range of brands to be served at government functions.
The English sparkling wine industry is a considerable success story with over 500 vineyards now producing more than 5 million bottles of wine per year. Much of this production takes place in Sussex, and Mr Herbert pointed out that Arundel & South Downs has more wine producers – 17 – than – any other constituency, many of them award winners.
This week the West-Sussex based Nyetimber – described by Mr Herbert in the debate as “arguably the finest English wine” – was awarded English Wine Producer of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition banquet in London.
Mr Herbert concluded by saying: “English wine is a potential success story. It is no longer a joke. People are talking about it. It is a source of alternative rural employment and a good, environmentally friendly land use.
“There are clear ways that the Government can get behind the industry, and I hope that they will, because it is an important and exciting one for this country, and Sussex in particular.”
1. To read Nick’s speech in the Westminster Hall debate and the Minster’s see http://www.nickherbert.com/media_centre.php/866/english-wine-industry.