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Reforms to the UK’s wine industry have been announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in a bid to boost investment and grow domestic production.
Changes will take effect in 2024 and will include removing mandatory rules around bottle shapes and packaging, such as requiring foil wraps and mushroom-shaped stoppers for sparkling wines. They will also allow the use of hybrid varieties of grapes and reduce post-Brexit administrative requirements for imports.
“We have a diverse and dynamic wine sector here in the UK – but for too long our producers and traders have been held back by red tape inherited from the EU,” said food and drink minister Mark Spencer. The reforms are said to make the most of the UK’s status outside the EU, scrapping “outdated and burdensome rules so that our wineries, vineyards and traders can continue to innovate and help grow our economy,” he continued.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association, welcomed the measures, which he said many members had long been calling for. The new rules, he said, should “maintain the UK as an attractive destination market and support our aim for UK consumers continue to have access to the widest possible choice of wine from around the world”.
“And at a time when businesses are doing all they can to minimise packaging waste,” he continued, “changes to packaging rules will be good for business, the environment and consumers.” Ned Awty, director and interim CEO of Wines of Great Britain agreed, adding, “Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of our domestic wine industry, WineGB welcomes any measures that supports these values.
“We also look forward to any future legislation changes that will help Britain’s fastest-growing agricultural sector thrive.” Wine production in England and Wales has grown significantly in recent years, with Defra reporting a 74% growth in hectarage of vines in the last five years.