Wine producers from Burgundy worry over Brexit

Wine producers from the town of Chablis in France's Burgundy region are worried about the likely repercussions of Brexit on the distribution of their products in Britain. The UK is their largest export market.

BURGUNDY (REUTERS) - Spring frosts have already chilled some of the wine growing regions in France, damaging crops at a key time.

Now Chablis producers in Burgundy are worried about Brexit.

Britain is their largest foreign market - buying almost a third of their export bottles.

Vineyard owner, Louis Moreau said: "We know that there is a distribution network in Britain that functions very well - wine sellers, restaurants. All the wholesalers are there. But we've had no response as yet from the large retailers and they make up 80 per cent of the distribution?"

Figures from one marketing firm show 6.5 million bottles of Chablis were sent to the UK last year, generating revenue of more than 37 million euros.

Sales in British supermarkets reached almost 2.6 million litres - with an average price of around 12 pounds per litre.

Since the Brexit vote sterling has weakened, making imports more expensive for Brits.

"Brexit is a problem, which will probably be more of a reality in the coming two, three years. We need to make sure our products are very good, so people will want to buy them. That's perhaps the big challenge," said Laurent Pinson, owner of Pinson Domain.

But other markets are growing.

US exports were up 24 per cent on the year in 2016, while Japanese numbers rose 15 per cent.

New trade deals with Britain will also be made - eventually - now that's something many would drink to.