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29 April 2024

New Funding Aims to Uncork Future Winemaking Talent

Wales’ fast-growing winemaking industry is to get support to continue its rapid growth.

UK Government has set aside £1.5m this year for a new Future Winemakers’ Scheme to help develop skills and job opportunities in the sector.

The funding would be targeted at educating, training and upskilling, as businesses estimate thousands of new vineyard jobs will be created over the coming years.

Wales and England have a fast-growing winemaking industry, with almost 1,000 vineyards. The number of hectares under vine in the UK has more than quadrupled since 2000.

The Environment Secretary Steve Barclay announced the new fund at the annual WineGB conference. He also revealed the latest steps in the Government’s programme to reform and simplify regulation for wine producers and traders.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: 

“The UK has a long tradition of producing and trading wine, and the sector has significant scope to expand.

“Around 2,300 people work in the British wine industry with a further 8,300 people employed part time, with numbers expected to grow by 50% next year.

“We are proud of what British winemakers have achieved over recent years, and we continue to work hard in partnership with the wine sector to simplify the rules and bring in new financial support.”

2023 was Britain’s largest-ever grape harvest, expected to produce an estimated 20-22m bottles and more than 50% bigger on Britain’s previous record year in 2018.

Viticulture – the cultivation and harvesting of grapes – is now Britain’s fastest-growing agricultural sector, employing around 2,300 people full time with a predicted 50% growth in jobs by 2025.

Nicola Bates, CEO of Wines of Great Britain, the trade body for Welsh and English wine, said: 

“The launch of this important educational fund is hugely significant and will ensure that we can train more British winemakers and viticulturists to staff our growing industry.

“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has listened to our members to better understand the ways that the Government can support our sector at this pivotal point in our history.

“We are the fastest growing agricultural industry with 4,200 hectares under vine, which is forecast to rise by 85% by 2032. After a bumper harvest of almost 22 million bottles last year, we need greater backing to ensure sustainable and transformative growth.”

The new funding package will go towards delivering new courses to develop skills and knowledge and to scale up training capacity to ensure a large enough skilled workforce is available to meet the increased growth potential of the industry.

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