Wine Standards, a branch of The Food Standards Agency, is the Government organisation responsible for keeping records of vineyards in the United Kingdom. These records are maintained in a Vineyard Register which is updated annually.
According to the Vineyard Register for 2013/14, there are 448 commercial vineyards in England & Wales. Additionally, there are 89 hobby vineyards, meaning that their owners do not sell any production which might come from them. The total area of these 537 vineyards amounts to 1,520 ha. The majority of vineyards are located in southern England, but they extend north as far as Yorkshire and The Humber, and westwards into Wales.
A comprehensive database of individual vineyard plots is also maintained by Stephen Skelton at EnglishWine.com. He records a total of 599 vineyard plots, with a total area of 1,640 ha. The reason for this discrepancy compared to the FSA’s Vineyard Register is probably due to the under-reporting in the latter of non-commercial vineyards.
The data at EnglishWine.com has been used to produce a chart of the vineyard plot size distribution for England & Wales. This shows that almost half of all vineyard plots are <1 ha and that ca. three-quarters of all plots are <2.5 ha. Currently there are only two vineyards which are greater than 50 ha. Denbies Wine Estate hosts the largest vineyard in England and Wales (107.3 ha) and is the only one to exceed 100 ha. The relatively small size of many vineyard plots in England & Wales means that economies of scale are limited and production costs, of necessity, will be on the high side.
The area of land given over to vineyards in England & Wales has increased markedly and rapidly from a low of 761 ha in 2004. The increasing reputation of English, especially English sparkling, wines has driven this growth and has attracted the attention of wealthy investors such as Lord Ashcroft. Future investment into the industry over the next few years will likely see the establishment of vineyards larger than the current norm and given over to those cultivars most suitable for producing sparkling wine.