Lucy Warner on exporting wine to the UK

Lucy Warner joins us as our guest blogger this month . Lucy  manages the UK exports for some of the country’s finest producers, including Excelsior Wines and has 28 years’ experience in the wine industry; 14 years in the UK working in the UK for Oddbins, Victoria Wine and Thresher and 14 years based in South Africa. She has an extensive knowledge and network in the UK and other global markets and a deep and passionate love for South Africa.

Lucy  Warner

According to recent statistics the average price a consumer pays for a bottle of wine in the UK is £5 a bottle.

It is an amazing and frustrating market all at the same time. Probably thanks to the Aussies,drinking wine in the UK has become something you don’t just do at a Sunday lunch with the parents. It has become a daily habit for the masses rather than just the aficionados. There is now not only the easily understood term for a ‘Classic Connoisseur’ but even an industry term ‘Chardonnay Girl’ and thank goodness for that, as the wine producers need all the customers they can get.

Excelsior Chardonnay

The reason I say this is that for a producer in say, South Africa, to sell his wine for a fiver on the shelf in the UK, he has 65p per 75cl to spend. With this he has to plant his vineyards, nurture his vines, employ and look after his staff, harvest his grapes, and vinify his wine. Oh, and he can only do it once a year!

For a bottle of wine to be sold for £5 in the UK, some 83p has to go to the UK Government as VAT at 20%. They also take another chunk of £1.98 for Alcohol Duty and an additional tax charged for non EU countries. Oh and it’s going up next year by about another 10p a bottle!Wine

Then obviously the people who sell the wine, the retailer and the agent who facilitates the deal, need to earn their margin, so about another £1 is gone.

Until wine runs from the bathroom tap, there is also the small matter of bottles and closures and labels and cartons which add up to about another 35p.


Clearly until teleporting is not just a dream, the wine needs to be transported from the winery to the port  and put on a boat and shipped to the UK, then onto another truck to be transported to the store and all this costs about another 20p per bottle.

For the UK Government to take over 55% in taxes of that £5 bottle of wine, leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many, particularly when taxes have done so little to curb underage drinking and alcohol abuse. Those are social ills have to be addressed but not by penalising a wine producer some 6,000km away, who just makes wine because he loves it and he wants to bring joy to the days of the ‘classic connoisseur’ and his ‘chardonnay girl’.


One response to “Lucy Warner on exporting wine to the UK

  1. Hi Lucy
    All the best with your new position. I am a great fan of Excelsior Cabernet Shiraz but it’s no longer available in the UK supermarkets. I have found it at a couple of independent retailers but if I buy it online it becomes expensive to pay for the delivery charge. Will you be selling it to the supermarkets?

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