Winemaking: blending tradition with innovation

Simon Crookston, Partner, Corporate Tax

UK winemaking dates back to the Roman times, albeit with a quarter of a century lull during wartimes. Winemaking is clearly an industry set in tradition but by no means is it an industry lacking in innovation. Our team have recently had the recent pleasure of visiting a business in this growing sector and it might surprise you to hear just how much research and development is taking place.

As you may know, winemakers will watch the weather conditions closely – a good quality harvest sets the tone for a quality wine – but there are many other factors which dictate whether a wine will be a success. Science plays a huge part in winemaking and this begins even before a vineyard site is planted. Viticulture experts will analyse potential sites in huge detail to determine strategies for optimising the harvest – from vineyard layout to soil management.

Even the vine-growing world is changing as the industry looks to become more ‘green’ and efficient, whilst finding kinder ways to manage soil ecology for a more sustainable vineyard.

Once the fruit has been pressed there is scope for experimentation with processes, varietals, blends, yeasts and enzymes – not to mention considering how greater efficiency and reduced environmental impact can be achieved in the winery.

Bottling processes, and methods for creating sparkling wines are not safe from innovation and increasingly we are seeing winemakers diversify their offerings into other products such as beers and spirits, each with their own challenges and opportunities to innovate.

It’s such a pleasure to get to learn a little of the interesting things companies are up to. For our team to have these conversations as tax advisors (and wine fans) in the context of supporting companies with claiming R&D tax credits, it is even better. R&D is by no means all white coats and test tubes – in fact this visit was more wellies and high-vis!

Is it time for a conversation to explore whether you could be claiming tax reliefs for the innovation in your company?

For more information, visit our R&D site or contact Simon Crookston.

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Simon Crookston
Simon Crookston
Partner, Corporate Tax