Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden is calling on the Government to offer more support to Wealden and UK vineyards during English Wine Week.
This year, the focus for English Wine Week, which is taking place between 18-26 June, is inspiring more people to get to know their local vineyards and buy direct from the cellar door.
Currently, UK vineyards are not afforded the benefit of cellar door relief which is granted to the British beer industry and under current proposals to review the alcohol duty system, vineyards are also not included in the Small Producers Relief.
Both beer and cider will continue to be taxed at significantly lower rates than wine and spirits, and the proposed Small Producers Relief scheme will only apply for products under 8.5% abv. This threshold means that vineyards and distillers are barred from accessing the scheme and its benefits, leaving wine and spirit SMEs disadvantaged and dismayed.
On top of this, proposed changes will see price rises in 80% of all still wine, 95% of red wine and 100% of fortified wines.
Nusrat, who is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Wine and Spirits, wants to see Government do more to help English and Welsh winemakers.
Nusrat has 14 vineyards in her constituency and has long been an avid champion of the English wine sector which has seen a 70% increase in land planted with vines in the last 5 years alone.
A huge amount of money has been invested in turning UK vineyards into popular tourism spots with many vineyards are now home to tours, tastings, restaurants and accommodation.
With around 800 vineyards across the country there are plenty of places to explore. UK winemakers now boast a trophy cabinet full or awards and are globally renowned for the quality of their products.
Cellar door or Small Producers Relief would go along way in supporting these burgeoning businesses and encouraging tourists would bring a major boost to rural communities.
Nusrat Ghani said: “I am enormously proud that Wealden is the home of some of the very best vineyards in the UK and I will always champion our local winemakers, who work incredibly hard all year round to produce their excellent, award-winning products. It’s a crucial time for the wine and spirit industry and I am keen to see Government offer these fantastic British businesses more support. Extending the small producers relief to vineyards as part of the alcohol duty review would allow the industry to invest, innovate and grow. The industry, which supports thousands of jobs in Wealden and nationwide, is critical to helping rural communities achieve the Government’s pledge to level up the ‘left behind’ areas in the UK.”
Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said: “The Chancellor’s current proposals are particularly damaging for SMEs. Following the huge success of English sparkling wine, we have begun to see an exciting growth in great quality English still wines. However, if the Government’s current proposals for wine tax go ahead this will stifle the growth of the English wine sector and be extremely prohibitive for our talented English wine makers. We very much welcome the reduction in sparkling wine tax, but not the proposed effect on the increase in still wine. We cannot understand why vineyards have been excluded from the Small Producers Relief scheme. For a small producer the most effective way of getting up and running is through cellar door sales which is an area where Government needs to offer more support.”