Brexit benefit

Scrapping EU rules ‘will boost UK wine sector’

Wine producers and importers will benefit from new rules (pic: Hermes Rivera)

British wine producers and importers will be freed from EU red tape as new Brexit rules provide a £180 million boost to the economy.

UK Food and Drink Secretary Thérèse Coffey said that giving Britain’s expanding vineyards the “freedom they need to thrive” was an example of the benefits from scrapping Brussels rules.

The changes will allow wine makers the freedom to pick from a wider range of vines, while bottlers will also be able to turn imported wine into sparkling wine.

It will mean the end of expensive and cumbersome packaging requirements – such as ending the mandatory requirement that certain sparkling wines must have foil caps and mushroom stoppers.

Domestic wine makers will also be free to show a variety and vintage of any wine without having to go through laborious, previously EU-mandated applications processes.

It will permit the production and marketing of low and no alcohol wines. Given the growing popularity of low and no alcohol wine, this will mean more flexibility for domestic producers and greater choice for consumers.

Ms Coffey said: “The UK has over 800 thriving vineyards at home and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of wine trade going through UK ports every year.

“But for too long our producers have been held back by cumbersome inherited EU regulations. We will give them the freedom they need to thrive. These reforms will put a rocket under our wine makers’ businesses – growing the economy, creating jobs and supporting a vital part of our food and drink sector.”

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “We welcome the range of measures proposed today.

“Allowing businesses bringing bulk wine into GB to be able to blend, will benefit importers, bottlers – and ultimately consumers while labelling changes will allow a common back label to be used in both EU and UK markets, maintaining the UK as an attractive market for all producers – large and small.”

A consultation, expected to begin shortly, seeking views on the nature, scope and timings of all the proposed changes from a variety of stakeholders in the industry.

Most UK vineyards are in south east England but warmer temperatures may make it possible to grow wine further north. Scotland’s best-known vineyard, Chateau Largo in Fife, was planted with 200 hybrid grapevines known to withstand a colder climate, but it failed following a soggy summer. Even further north, Château Hebrides was created from 20 black Muscat varieties.

Cairn o’ Mohr has been producing fruit wines at Carse of Gowrie in Perthshire since 1987. Other non-grape wineries are Highland Winery and Orkney Wine Company.

The announcement from the Environment Department follows anger from hardline Brexit supporters that the government had watered down plans to revoke leftover EU rules. Ministers confirmed 600 retained EU laws would be removed or re-written rather than the 4,000 pledged.

The SNP continues to claim that there have been no benefits from Brexit and instead insists it “has brought nothing but red tape and restrictions for Scotland’s agricultural sector”.

In a statement today it said “the Tories’ blinkered pursuit of Brexit is having dangerous implications for food security in Scotland.”

SNP MSP Karen Adam said :“From our supermarkets to our farms, Brexit has failed to deliver a single benefit for Scotland’s food and drink businesses.”

Food exporters, however, are finding ways to overcome the Brexit rule changes. Scottish salmon exports to the EU were up 7% by value in the first quarter of this year, though sales by volume fell 14%, according to official data.

Wine wholesalers in Scotland

Inverarity Morton – Glasgow

Wines and spirits merchant. As a composite wholesaler, it also supplies the licensed trade with a portfolio of packaged drinks products.

Wine Importers – Livingston

Established in 1975 to meet a growing demand for wines with a global difference.

Alliance Wine – Beith

Founded in 1984 by Christian Bouteiller and Jonathan Kennett, the business has unearthed an array of vignerons. Alliance has evolved into a business that covers importing, distribution and production across all sectors of the market, both in the UK and internationally.

Alexander Wines – Glasgow

Established in 1981 Alexander Wines is independently owned and operated by Fraser Alexander and 13 full-time members of staff. Alexander developed a passion for wine working in the vineyards of Baden, Germany, in the late 1970s.

CQS – Kirkliston and Glasgow

An importer, agent and distributor of speciality Italian and other continental foods, wines, liqueurs and sprits. It also has depots in depots in Huddersfield and Newcastle.

Gordon & MacPhail – Elgin

Established in 1895, the family-owned firm of Gordon and MacPhail has a number of business interests. It is a retailer in Elgin, a wholesaler of wines and spirits in the UK

Wildflower Wines – Linlithgow

Wildflower Wines is an independent wine company supplying the on and off-trade since 2002.

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