A leading English wine producer tells us that following the Brexit vote they will target growth by increasing exports and expanding capacity to cater for domestic tourists.
Hush Heath Wine is produced in an estate compromising of 400 acres of manicured vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands rich with wildlife, flora and fauna.
Hidden deep in Kent, the Garden of England, the Estate is home to award winning English sparkling wine, Balfour Brut Rosé.
Since its beginnings the Estate has grown its product range substantially and now boasts an exquisite selection of wines and ciders all produced from fruit grown in vineyards and apple orchards on the estate.
What started as a hobby for entrepreneur Richard Balfour-Lynn is now a quickly expanding family based wine and cider business.
Hush Heath also owns St Bart’s (Farringdon), The Bull (Bishopsgate), The Goudhurst Inn (Goudhurst) and The Tickled Trout (West Fairleigh), each with an individual feel and style.
Exports now accounts for approximately 5% of Hush Heath’s business and therefore the impact to the UK’s trading position following the EU vote matters to the company.
The decline in Sterling following the vote would appear to be a positive one for now.
Exports have increased, specifically in the Japanese and US markets.
“We already export to Japan, Germany and Scandinavia, and before the year is out Hush Heath English wines will launch across the USA,” says Balfour-Lynn.
“At Hush Heath, we have seen a positive response in that we are growing our export markets and receiving more orders from people interested in buying our premium English wines.”
However, there could be some price increases coming down the line, with the bottling of the new vintage next year being earmarked for a hike.
In terms of post-referendum strategy, Balfour-Lynn says it is business as usual with strategy focussed on exploring the “greatest opportunities with exports to Japan and the USA, and this remains true.”
And there is another potential Brexit boost stemming from the exchange rate’s recent movements:
“If you consider that people are taking more staycations here in the UK rather than travelling abroad.
“We are looking to further develop the wine tourism side of our business, though this had already been a focus, both for the winery and Cellar Door at Hush Heath Estate, and also for the hospitality side of our company.”
Indeed, any expansion planned is focussed on developing the wine tourism side of Hush Heath rather than planting more vines.
Balfour-Lynn says it’s too early to judge Brexit; the outcome results will become clearer in the next four years.
With regards to potential restrictions to freedom of movement for EU nationals Hush Heath are not concerned:
“As a business we are a great believer in supporting the local economy and in terms of our people, predominantly we employ those based in the UK. We are proud to have a brilliant team that includes second and third generations of families working at Hush Heath Estate.”
Brexit: An Opportunity
On the question of Brexit Balfour-Lynn says he sees more of an opportunity: specifically for the English wine industry to reduce duty rates.
Further, he would encourage Theresa May and her government to listen to the millions of the British public who voted.
“Much of our export is to markets outside of the EU, and so there is unlikely to be a huge impact when it comes to the export of our premium English wines,” says Balfour-Lynn.