The future of farming in the UK
As the year begins to draw to a close, attention naturally turns to the year (and years) ahead. As of late, the future of British farming has been hotly debated in the UK media. From climate change providing new challenges to cost debates to rising closures of farms, there’s no shortage of discussion points. As a family with generations of farming behind us, it’s of course a topic we continue to feel very passionately about and one which affects our team each and every day at the vineyard and at the orchards for our sister cider company.
But in and amongst the sad news, we found hope for the future of farming in the UK with the planting of our Radlow Hundred vines. Our founder, Sue, has always said her grandfather would never have imagined in his lifetime that the farm would eventually diversify to plant vines, and it’s certainly one way to work with the changing climate and farming landscape.
With a heartland already in the world of drinks, through cider production, moving into wine growing felt like a natural next step. And indeed we’re not alone, in 2023 there are now almost 950 vineyards across the UK. Compare this to 10 years ago, where just 450 vineyards were recorded, that’s a huge growth doubling in a decade. We have ambitions to hopefully one day be one of the best vineyards in the UK, and we’re working towards doing this in our own way with a focus on the production of still wine, with lesser known grape varieties, Rondo and Solaris.
But why is viticulture growing in the UK? It is now officially the fastest growing agricultural sector on our shores, and there are a host of reasons for this. Firstly, the climate is now lending itself to quality wine production with a shift towards warmer temperatures promoting excellent wine growing. This will improve the quality of sparkling wines, but it also means we’re now seeing a move towards better temperatures for growing still wine. Secondly, the category is going from strength to strength with demand beginning to outweigh supply. A huge influx of investment into the category has led to the establishment of English wine as a serious player on the scene, now with its own tourism arm, with many vineyards opening their doors for tours and educational experiences.
We’re firm believers that planting grapes is going to shape the next chapter of the farming industry. We hope that the growth of viticulture and the spread of vineyards across the country will help to bring a more positive thread back to farming in the UK, and continue to provide a future for agriculture here. For us, it’s been about safeguarding our family’s farming legacy for the next generation. Luckily, at the same time, we get to create delicious wine and spend privileged days in and amongst the vines building our knowledge of the wonderful world of wine growing.
We’ll continue to share updates from the vineyard and, whilst we’re currently a closed vineyard, we hope in years to come to be able to welcome guests to see firsthand the future of farming in Herefordshire.