Visiting Ridgeview Wine estate in Sussex yesterday (June 5) for English Wine Week, Paterson told representatives of the English wine industry: “PDOs [Protected Designation of Origin] and PGIs [Protected Geographical Indicators] are really important.
“The government has a real role in helping to build up the integrity of the brand. I am very happy to go down the line of helping industry in that and to work with the industry on branding.”
In particular, he claimed the English wine industry had a lot to shout about and urged producers to unite behind a single label that could be used to promote exports. “We could do more to promote English wine,” he added.
Paterson, secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), said he doubted whether ‘English sparkling wine’ had sufficient cachet to act as such an umbrella label.
By contrast, Ridgeview’s Merett label, which it uses for many of its wines, was closer to what was required, he said: “The Merett idea is interesting.”
Ridgeview uses the Merett tag in honour of Dr Christopher Merett, who has some claim in helping to invent champagne in the 16th Century.
Paterson said the UK food and drink industry made a real impact with other products on the world stage. “The French drink more Scotch whisky in a month than they drink French cognac in a year.”
While he recognised the industry was starting from a low base, he claimed English wine had the potential to make a similar impact on global markets.
During Paterson’s visit, wine industry representatives heard DEFRA grants to build wine production were freely available and Ridgeview said it had benefited from several since its foundation in 1994.
Sales of English wine have reached £82M and are forecast to reach £100M in 2015. There are currently 432 UK vineyards and 128 wineries.
Watch the video below with Ridgeview’s founder Mike Roberts to find out what benefits he said exporting had brought his business.