The organisers of English Wine Week have hailed the low temperatures, leaden skies and non-stop rainfall as ‘absolutely perfect’ for the festival, saying that the country’s wine producers had ‘dodged a bullet’.
‘Most of our wineries have absolutely knack all worth seeing,’ said Constance Drizzle of the Society for the Production of English Wine (SPEW). ‘They’re basically an old garage with some wellies and a tank, so letting the public visit would have been a disaster.’
According to SPEW, 30 years of telling people that English wine was ‘like Champagne only better because it’s not French’ could have been ‘undone in a moment’ once the public realised their aspirational £35 sparkler came from the side of an A-road littered with roadkill, or the estate of a tax-avoiding aristocrat who lives in Monaco.
Don’t touch this
Amber List from Tourism UK told Fake Booze that the country’s wineries had to walk a tightrope with their tourism strategy.
‘In terms of building relationships, it’s really important that the country’s wineries actively engage with their fans by offering them lots of exciting-sounding activities for one week every year,’ she told Fake Booze.
‘But it’s even more important that the public never actually do any of it.’
According to SPEW, Britain’s cool climate is their ‘greatest ally’ in creating naturally high levels of acidity in the wines, and naturally high levels of non-visiting in the public.
‘Brits will happily shelter from the rain under a pub parasol in February to drink Stella,’ said Amber List. ‘But they won’t visit a vineyard unless its 25 degrees outside, which means there are only two or three days a year when wineries are at risk of visitation.’
‘Two weeks ago we had a freak 48 hour heatwave,’ said SPEW’s Drizzle. ‘If that had carried on into English Wine Week we’d have been in all sorts of trouble. There’d have been people everywhere, demanding tastings and visits.
‘Half our members would have had to take time off from their real jobs as gentlemen farmers or hedge fund managers to look after them.’
The decision to hold English Wine Week over Midsummer was, she said, a stroke of genius, since it guaranteed not just abysmal weather but also a profound feeling of disillusion that ‘perfectly mirrored the experience of buying a bottle of English red wine.’
Tourism UK says that the country’s wineries have a long way to go before they catch up with their counterparts over the Channel.
‘People expect interactive video tours, grandiose chateaux and a marble-topped tasting room from their winery visits,’ said Amber List. ‘The visitor experience at Moet is light years ahead of anything that we can offer over here.
‘Though on the downside you do still have to taste Brut Impérial.’