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Chris & Co: Wine industry and housing sector face challenges to meet demand say Hush Heath and Golding Homes bosses

By Chris Price

The English wine industry has a challenge to meet growing demand as production is falling, according to one of the county’s top producers.

Richard Balfour-Lynn, producer at Hush Heath Wine Estate near Staplehurst, said leaving the EU presents a huge opportunity for British brands abroad.

However, the industry has a job on its hands to meet demand when it has come under attack from an April frost and drought conditions at the start of the year.

Speaking on KMTV business show Chris & Co, Mr Balfour-Lynn said: “The challenge is the production of English wine has come down at a time when demand is rising.

“We are working with a number of the major retailers and most of them are stocking English wines.

“Awareness is rising rapidly and on most wine lists around the UK you will find English wine on the wine list which is very different from merely a couple of years ago.”

Mr Balfour-Lynn appeared alongside fellow guest Peter Stringer, the chief executive of Maidstone-based housing association Golding Homes.

Hush Heath's Balfour Brut Rose on ice
Hush Heath's Balfour Brut Rose on ice

Mr Stringer, who is retiring this summer, said he is optimistic about the UK’s prospects from Brexit but remains concerned about attitudes to house building amid a shortage of affordable homes.

He said: “We have got to think about this in a grown up way and think ‘do I want to house my children and grandchildren or do we still want to be able to overlook that green field?’ It’s as simple as that.”

Mr Stringer also fears the impact of rising inflation since the devaluation of the pound following the vote to leave.

He said: “The issue is around the affordability of our product and what might happen to inflation.

A Golding Homes development in Knights Way, Headcorn
A Golding Homes development in Knights Way, Headcorn

“We are sat in the most wealthy part of the South East but 28% of working people here are in receipt of housing benefit or income tax credits because they can’t afford their housing costs.

“The average house in our region costs £330,000, which is 11 times the average income.

“There are some real pressing issues at home as well as abroad.”

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