2004 LOOKS set to be an excellent vintage for UK wine producers, with many vineyards reporting record yields and good sugar levels.

With the public enjoying a Christmas and New Year tipple, winemakers are predicting that this year’s product will have excellent structure, balance and longevity.

This shows that it does not just take exceptional weather in the UK to ensure good wine, says Julia Trustram Eve of English Wine Producers.

The anticipated yield could top the 25,000hl mark, close to the record-breaking 26,000hl of 1996 – and a big jump from the close-to-average yield of 14,500hl (1.93m bottles) in 2003.

The first wines from 2004 were from Three Choirs, who traditionally launch a new release on the same day as Beaujolais with a white wine produced from early-ripening varieties.

As the industry celebrates its 50th anniversary of the first commercial harvest, sales of English wines are at an all time high, adds Ms Trustram Eve.