London, Jan 27 (PTI) Amid the growing popularity of sparkling wines produced in Britain, one of the country’s leading producers has announced plans to launch in India later this year.

Nyetimber, based in West Sussex, plans to go global and tap into the Asian markets after a record grape harvest last year.

It follows a 400 per cent rise in sales as a result of growing demand from Europe and the US for UK-produced fizzy wines, previously a reserve of the French region of Champagne. England is now set to become one of the world’s leading producers of wine by 2100, ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ reported.

“Our wines are now seen as genuinely world-class and are competing with the very best from France and the rest of the world,” said Eric Heerema, who acquired Nyetimber in 2006.

“The UK will always be our priority, but we are increasingly aware that we have only scratched the surface in terms of the international potential of our products. With a staged plan to significantly grow our exports we are changing this. Nyetimber has successfully conquered this country now it’s time for it to take on the world,” he said.

Nyetimber is already stocked in some venues in Singapore and Hong Kong but the international rollout will take it into new markets in Japan and India.

Located in West Chiltington in the southern England county of West Sussex, the Nyetimber Estate was once owned by King Henry VIII. The King passed it to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, as part of the marriage annulment.

The first vines were planted in 1988 and Nyetimber grows the three celebrated grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

Last year, Nyetimber’s head winemaker Cherie Spriggs won the prestigious International Wine Challenge Sparkling Winemaker of the Year award the first time someone outside the Champagne region has won.

Last year’s record harvest of 14 million bunches of grapes in Britain produced more than a million bottles.

In 2018, for the first time in the prestigious Sommelier Wine Awards’ history, English sparkling wine received more gold medals than Champagne.

English fizzy products won seven gold medals, while Champagne’s performance slumped compared to last year, receiving just six golds, half the number achieved in 2017.

“One of the opportunities of a changing climate is the chalky soil of parts of England, combined with the weather that we are having, means that English sparkling wine will have a bumper harvest,” UK environment minister Michael Gove said at the time.

“It’s been assessed independently as of higher quality and better tasting than the finest Champagne vineyards,” he said.

Under the European Union (EU) rules, only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France and fermented to a certain specification can be characterised as such. All other fizzy wines created from grapes produced outside the region are referred to simply as sparkling wine.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.