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Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what measures his Department is taking to promote the production and commercial sale of English wines. (249516)

I have been asked to reply.

The area of vines planted in England is increasing in response to market demand. However, this increase is not yet being reflected in a substantial increase in English wine production due to the time lag for newly planted vines to become productive, and also because the wet weather of the past two summers has resulted in a lower production from existing vines.

In the recent reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) regime for wine, the UK successfully negotiated a derogation that will allow the English wine sector to continue to expand without the threat of our plantings being capped by the controls that exist in the main EU wine production countries. This outcome was warmly welcomed by the English wine industry. The reform also provides for the UK to establish a national programme to assist the development of our domestic wine industry. After consulting with the industry, further funding is being provided through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) to establish training programmes to help upskill this rapidly developing sector. The English wine industry is also able to access funds from the RDPE for a range of other activities and a number of applications have already been approved.