“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other word would smell as sweet.”
Act two, scene two, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare.
This month witnessed a mixed response and very heated debate across social medial following the unveiling of the Wines of Great Britain logo – full story on page 11 – but should the UK’s viticulture industry really be worried about the name of a trade organisation?
On a frequent basis I encounter friends, family, suppliers to the industry and, in a previous role, trade customers who were more than happy to declare their support and adoration of ‘British’ wine.
Do they mean British wine, the product of imported grapes or grape concentrate that is made into wine in Britain? Absolutely not. Am I blue in the face explaining the true definition of English and Welsh wines? Absolutely, but passionately so too. It is up there with explaining what’s wrong with the phrase English Champagne.
This misuse of the term British wine has not appeared overnight from the renaming of one of the industry’s trade organisations. Indeed if it had been branded the English and Welsh vineyards and wine producers association this confusion would not have disappeared either.
The industry must proactively educate the public and journalists (hands up who sighs a deep breath every time a mainstream news headline appears to be touting the success of British wine) on the difference between English, Welsh and British wines. This must be a unified approach across the supply chain, from growers, producers and vineyard staff, to wine merchants, sommeliers, waiters and waitresses. A prospect which will no doubt become more challenging as regions develop PDOs leading to consumers needing enlightening on the difference between Sussex sparkling wine and English sparkling wine produced in Sussex.
WineGB is snappy, memorable and will surely resonate with the export market, particularly our American friends who seem more than content in referring to English sparkling wine as ‘British Fizz’ anyway.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it matters only what something is; not what it is called. Whether you agree with the name Wines of Great Britain or not, as long as the industry body continues to educate, lobby the government and strive to support growers and producers alike, it will continue to thrive.
Have a passionate view to share on this? Send your thoughts and comments via post to FREEPOST VINEYARD, tweet us at @VineyardMagGB, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Victoria Rose