The US wine giant, Jackson Family Wines (JFW), is entering the English sparkling wine market. As reported by Decanter, JFW has acquired the contract winemaking facility, Defined Wine, in the county of Kent, where it plans to produce still and sparkling wines.
For this project, Charlie Holland, previously the Chief Winemaker and CEO of the renowned British brand Gusbourne, has been recruited. Starting in September 2023, he will begin processing purchased base wines from the 2022 vintage into premium sparkling wine. To enable future production from its own vineyards, JFW is in the process of acquiring 26 hectares of land in Crouch Valley, where they intend to plant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
JFW owns 40 wineries worldwide and over 5,500 hectares of vineyards. Following champagne houses such as Taittinger and Pommery, as well as the sparkling wine giant Henkell-Freixenet, JFW is the first international still wine giant to invest in English sparkling wine.
England with significant growth
According to the recently published Industry Report 2022/2023 by Wines of Great Britain, vineyard sites in the United Kingdom have increased by 74% from 2017 to 2022, reaching a total of 3,928 hectares. An additional 400 hectares are expected to be planted in 2023, with the majority located in England (3,855 hectares), including over 1,000 hectares in Kent alone.
The vineyards are dominated by the traditional Champagne varieties. Driven by climate change, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, and Albariño have made their way to Britain. Wine and sparkling wine production has increased from 5.3m bottles in 2017 to 12.2m bottles in 2022, with the majority being traditional bottle-fermented sparkling wines. This quantity is expected to double by 2032.