An Introduction from our new Chairman
It is a great honour to have taken over as Chair of the United Kingdom Vineyard Association on the day that our small but very special industry was celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
On Wednesday 25th January 2017 our President, The Duchess of Cornwall, gave a wonderful reception at Clarence House for many of the pioneers, leading producers and key contributors to the English and Welsh wine industry. There was a great sense of camaraderie and we toasted the Association for the success of the past 50 years and for the next.
For the past 2 years I have been working closely with my predecessor, Sam Lindo, and I would once again like to put record all our appreciation for his vision, hard work and leadership throughout his term as Chairman. My intention is to further develop the recent dynamic momentum of the Association. We have many work streams underway with a lot of members contributing a great deal of effort and energy to making things happen.
• Our CEO, Barry Lewis, is outward facing, forging relationships with Government and other organisations; giving our industry a far greater voice than we have ever had before.
• We have a working group focused on Regulation, dealing with the implications of Brexit, the PDO/PGIs and the controversial subject of “British Fizz” – which, contrary to press misinterpretation, is categorically not the Association’s chosen name for “English Sparkling Wine’.
• The Association now has a number of important Patrons who are key to our long-term development.
• I am determined that we give more focus to the need for Research, Development and Training. These are areas that the Association supports but we can do much more.
• We have an exciting new National Wine Competition being launched; there is further development of the new Website coming; plus a ‘new entrants to the industry’ booklet that will soon be available and there are many other initiatives underway.
Criticism of our communication and the lack of information coming out to the membership were raised at the AGM. Barry, Jo and I accept that this is an area in which we must improve and it is a priority that we will address.
Many of you will know that for the past 3 years I have been a great advocate of Unity – but this is not at any price. We need a single, and united, organisation that can properly represent the interests of everyone involved in the industry.
The Unity discussions are progressing well and this remains my primary objective. I therefore may only be your Chairman for a short period of time. It is my firm belief that with the tremendous expansion of English and Welsh wine we need a representative from one of the largest brands as a figurehead and in the Chair. Until that happens, however, I intend to communicate, listen and drive forward our national Association for the benefit of each and every member, to the very best of my ability.
Thank you for your support.
Sam Lindo’s New Year Message
I am writing to you all to let you know I will be standing down as UKVA Chairman at the Council meeting immediately following the AGM on 24th January 2017. When I took over as Chairman of the UKVA, my mission was to make the UKVA a more effective and dynamic Trade Body and make the role of Chairman much less onerous by improving the structure and professionalising the UKVA. Previously the UKVA functioned only as Chairman and the secretary. My other aim was to achieve a single unified organisation that encompassed the activities of both the UKVA and EWP. We have come a very long way in 2 years but not far enough for me to stay in this role with the work it requires on top of my family and business needs.
One aspect of the job that I could have done better is communication (I think my Dad set the bar pretty high, when he was Chair). So below is a full account of what has happened over the last 2 years. It is also an opportunity to thank everyone who has given up their time and expertise along the way.
First 6 months
We assembled a team of volunteers with various backgrounds from within and outside our industry to form the structure Working Group. Peter Gladwin, Chris Foss, Mark Driver, Guy Howard, Tamara Roberts, Mike Paul and Tim Ingrim-Hill. We recognised what was wrong with the setup of the UKVA at the time and decided the best course of action would be to start with a clean sheet of paper and work out what the UK wine industry trade association should look like. However it was clear we couldn’t just sweep away what was there already; UKVA and EWP. People have put a lot of effort into both organisations over the years.
At the same time we [UKVA] had to get proper financial reporting, to enable us to make much more informed decisions. With the voluntary help of Shaun Merrick, and the highly skilled Mags Gilbert, we now have highly effective financial reporting. This has helped the UKVA get onto an excellent financial stability to enable us to put the plan into action.
I thought the next course of action should be to approach EWP to look at the idea of joining together. This met resistance, because of the simple fact we [UKVA] hadn’t been running effectively. The UKVA was perceived by some, as too weak for the two organisations to unite, coupled with the fact that some EWP members just wanted the EWP to concentrate on marketing. So my idea was to put the ideas that the structure group came up with into play via the UKVA. I had hoped, that once we had a better functioning UKVA, perhaps we could go back and have another go later.
Management Committee and CEO
I was determined that the UKVA should more forward at the same rate as the industry was growing. We knew the articles of association were not right for a national trade association but on the other hand we had to propose a better alternative. We didn’t want the future UKVA to be bogged down with historical points of view, so we set up the management committee to carry out the executive function of the UKVA with the help of a paid CEO.
We had sorted the finances out (the best way to save money is to stop spending it.) and I managed to get the Council to agree to implement the Management Committee structure, the Research and Development Group and we had the funds to employ a CEO for 2 days a week.
The Council is historically made up of regional Chairman and they are busy being regional Chairman and do not have time to run the national trade association effectively. With this initiative they have delegated the executive function to the Management Committee and the CEO without cementing a change in the Mem and Arts.
Peter Gladwin has very effectively run the Management Committee which is made up of Tamara Roberts, Emma Rice, Duncan McNeil, Bruce Tindale, Jane Awty, Geoff Taylor, Mike Paul, Cherie Spriggs, Dominic Buckwell, Peter Gladwin and Shaun Merrick. They have met a number of times and put in a huge amount of work. The beauty of the MC is it enables more volunteers to get involved and relieve the pressure on the regional Chairman.
We were incredibly lucky that Barry Lewis came along. He knows the industry and knows what a day in the life of an English Wine grower is like, but more importantly he has a political dynamic required for a trade association. We now have a wine champion in Westminster and Brussels, politicians who feel responsible for our industry. Why is this important? We are probably the smallest agricultural industry there is in the UK. We are bottom of the list for Defra, they have far too much olive oil negotiations to sort out. Clearly Barry has been putting in far more than the 2 days a week he was brought in for and we have a lot to thank him for his extra work. We have recently approved for Barry to work for an official 3 days per week, all fully funded – he has also been responsible for improving our finances even further bring in 33% more funds via sponsorship than before.
It has become clear over the course of 2016 that the UKVA and EWP have been duplicating efforts in a number of areas. Given that all of the EWP members are also members of the UKVA this is a ridiculous situation. The UKVA has approved a team to negotiate with EWP to combine forces and efforts and hopefully achieve unity. This was my other aim when I became chair but sadly I cannot see this through, but of course, I fully support this initiative.
The main achievements
There have been numerous work streams and achievements for the year, please click on this link to our CEO’s first blog post for a record of the years achievements.
Thank you all for your support – I have enjoyed it and learned a lot
Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy your English Wine on New Years Eve