International Cool Climate Wine Symposium heads to Brighton

English wine is regularly challenging, and defeating, more famous foreign names at international awards

In the latest sign of England’s growing reputation as one of the finest wine-producing regions, a global industry conference on “cool climate” vineyards is to be held in Brighton. Leading winemakers and viticulturalists will meet in the Sussex coastal city in May with marketeers and others involved with producing and selling some of the world’s finest wines.

The presence of this year’s International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) in the UK is a culmination of a trip to Tasmania made in 2012 – the last time the event was held – by Master of Wine Justin Howard-Sneyd and colleagues, hoping to persuade organisers to choose England as the next venue. 

“We did so because we firmly believed that the time was coming for England and Wales to be recognised as a top-quality wine-producing region in our own right,” he said. 

“We put forward a convincing case backed up by the attractiveness of the UK as a country worth visiting and our account of the astonishing progress of our wine industry. Our pitch won the day.”

Home-grown wines continue to go from strength to strength, with English sparkling wine in particular regularly challenging, and defeating, more famous foreign names at international awards.

The UK industry is enjoying rapid growth and there are now more than 1,600 hectares of vineyards, with almost 70 per cent in the southern and eastern counties: West and East Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and Essex. Other counties with sizeable vineyard areas include Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Suffolk and Cornwall.

Commercial vineyards also extend as far north as Yorkshire and there are even some experimental operations in Scotland. 

 Mr Howard-Sneyd said not many people currently understand what is meant by a “cool climate” wine. 

“But I am convinced that there is a great deal of demand for the kind of wines made in cool climates – delicate, refreshing, complex, balanced and aromatic,” he said. “I believe that in years to come, the phrase ‘cool climate’ will have as much currency as the terms old world and new world.”

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