Britain’s Record-Breaking 2023 Grape Harvest

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WineGB has released ‘2023 Harvest Report – the big one‘ (PDF). The report estimates a production of 20-22 million bottles, a very large 50% increase from the previous record year in 2018. This bountiful harvest is attributed to exceptional performance from the top grape varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier, and Bacchus – with the top quarter of vineyards averaging 15.60 tonnes per hectare.

The last five years have seen a remarkable growth in vineyard hectarage, now standing at a 75% increase, contributing significantly to this year’s yield. The areas of East Anglia, the South East, and Wessex (Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight) recorded the highest yields, benefiting from their drier and warmer climates.

Despite a generally cold and wet summer, the late heat in September proved ideal for wine production, much to the delight of industry experts and consumers alike. The report, authored by Stephen Skelton MW, highlights the minimal impact of spring frost and the favourable weather conditions during the crucial flowering period in June.

Stephen Skelton MW, reflecting on the year, remarked, “2023 will be a vintage to remember.” He emphasised that the remarkable yields were a result of both the near-perfect weather at critical growing stages and the unprecedented increase in vine hectarage over the past five years.

Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB, expressed her optimism, noting the unexpected benefit of the summer’s lacklustre weather. She highlighted the growing domestic consumption of UK-produced wines and the increasing exports, particularly to the Nordics and Japan. The report’s findings are based on data collected from a survey of 132 vineyard owners, representing half of the national cropping area, which reinforces the significance of this year’s harvest for the British wine industry.