WineGB welcomes MP interest in vineyard relief

Industry body WineGB has welcomed interest shown by MPs to support relief for vineyards in the UK and is encouraging its members to make further pleas to local governments.

Chapel Down’s Kit’s Coty vineyard

David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome; Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely; Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake; and Ludlow MP Philip Dunne are among those that have voiced their support for the scheme that was first sent to the Treasury last December.

In the document, WineGB is calling for excise duty relief for cellar door sales. Recognising the prevalence of contract winemaking in the UK, the industry body is proposing that either wine made at the premises of the producer where the wine is made or wine made from grapes grown on the vineyard would be eligible for such relief.

Relief will not be granted once the wine is sold on to a distributor, but “some allowance” might be made for producer consortia selling their wines jointly. Relief will not be granted for internet sales.

In the proposed scheme, cellar door assistance will be given for sales up to 100 hectolitres, the equivalent of 13,333 75cl bottles. The relief cap for still wine producers would be £29,295 and £37,395 for sparkling winemakers.

Aerial view over the vines at Nyetimber. Image: Chris Gorman

WineGB proposes that the scheme “should not be limited to small producers”. This, it said, is to avoid damaging local business for medium and large businesses and to not provide a disincentive for small businesses to expand.

Based on a figure of 700 vineyards/producers in the UK (WineGB’s latest statistics show there are 794 vineyards in the UK) all selling the maximum 13,350 bottles of sparkling wine at the cellar door, WineGB calculates the cost to be £25.9 million.

It adds that the cost is likely to be lower owing to the fact that not all vineyards make sparkling wine (the duty on still wine is less), and not every producer is capable of producing that volume, with 5 acres of vines needed to achieve those sale volumes. Between 100 to 200 vineyards can produce wine to that scale, according to WineGB.

Simon Robinson, chairman of WineGB, commented: “During this somewhat turbulent time it is encouraging to see a number of our MPs this week actively behind this initiative, that, if passed, will bring resounding benefits to the UK wine industry and thus to the UK economy as a whole.

“We wholeheartedly support this move and would be delighted to work with any MPs with vineyards in their constituency to highlight this significant opportunity which is of particular interest to our smaller producers. By encouraging vineyards to expand their cellar door facilities, the scheme would also encourage tourism more generally as well as much needed rural development and employment.”

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