The UK’s Love of Wine Becomes Homegrown – Fera Makes it More Sustainable


The UK’s Love of Wine Becomes Homegrown – Fera Makes it More Sustainable

The UK’s love of wine is having a beneficial effect on imports and exports with the total value of wine exported from the UK totalling £574 million in 2017. This sector is currently the fastest growing UK export, having risen by 17% in value and 23% in volume since 2016. Research has shown that wine making talent in the UK was only recognised around 20 years ago but has rapidly grown to meet an increasing demand for domestic vintages. Wine production generates £17.3 billion in economic activity and contributes £9.1 billion to the public purse through taxes and duty. Despite being a relatively small presence on the global market, the industry directly employs 170,000 people and a further 100,000 within the supply chain.

The UK is the sixth largest market for wine in the world, yet domestic supply remains limited and each year the UK imports over £3 billion worth of wine. However, what is changing is the number of UK wineries which is on the increase with 80 launched in 2017, an increase on the 64 that opened in 2016. 

Despite this, supply can outpace capacity at times, as was shown in 2018. The bumper harvest led to some estates renting extra equipment to store and process grapes, so the move to owning a winery to help mitigate this risk is definitely top of the mind at the moment. So with that in mind, Fera, having been been part of the EU funded Vitismart project solving some of the viticulture challenges likely to be experienced to a changing climate, have put these learnings to good use.

Viticulture is one of the fastest growing areas of the UK economy and an opportunity for landowners to diversify, almost any landowner can get involved. Fera Science Ltd can support this growing industry by offering the opportunity to improve the yield of the grapevine crop whilst potentially saving on overall production costs. With Fera’s work on disease detection and accurate forecasting this can support integrated pest management through targeted fungicide applications. Fungal diseases like grey mould, downy mildew and powdery mildew can have devastating impacts on grape yields and quality. These diseases pose an important issue for growers, who are often relying heavily on chemical inputs, which increases production costs, drives the development of fungicide resistance and can lead to adverse health impacts on vineyard workers.

Today’s vine growers are encouraged to adopt a sustainable approach to wine production and Fera’s vine spore monitoring service will prove to be a valuable asset. The newly launched vine spore monitoring service will support cultural practices and solve wine production problems in an improving way that minimises the use off-farm inputs, such as agricultural chemicals and fertilisers, protecting workers and the environment. Due to the extensive growing season vines become vulnerable to infection from fungal plant pathogens such as botrytis and mildew and these diseases pose a significant threat to yields and overall flavour and aroma. Fera’s vine spore monitoring service should be the first line of defence against potential crop losses from these highly debilitating diseases. Grapes are a high value high input crop so the uncertainty surrounding the decision to apply a fungicide can be significantly decreased by using Fera’s vine spore monitoring service. Our research shows that a number of these fungicide products are being applied unnecessarily when no spores are present in the air, thus adding to the overall cost of production and reducing overall sustainability.

Making informed decisions on spray timing this vine season is vital to creating a better outcome.


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