Pre-covid and post-covid worlds are taking shape, with changes almost as significant as those pre and post-war. So what will 2022 look like? We bring your our final newsletter of 2021 with some predictions for next year’s biggest trends in wine.

Digital digs deep

The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption all over the world. And these adaptations will stay. We are at the beginning of new digital possibilities for wine trading, education, investment and more. In our own work at Swirl, virtual tastings now complement in-person events from the earliest stages of planning.

We will always need in-person connection, but virtual events and their digital footprint broaden reach. Guests at our virtual tastings have told us how they value these events for their accessibility – especially important for those who cannot travel easily, and for those balancing child (or other) care. We took up virtual events at Swirl as a problem-solver, but now we’re working on ambitious new ways of improving the experience and theatre of our digital events. And we know we’re not alone.

Positive Patrimony

Wine may be incorrigibly plural, but it’s not uniquely so, and the highlighting of Ancestral Foods as a key trend in the latest Pinterest Predicts vindicates the wine-centric obsession with context, tradition and culture. Ancestral Foods is a concept that celebrates positive patrimony; a preoccupation with authenticity of traditional ingredients, links to the land and the passing down of community wisdom. Wine is rooted in this preoccupation, and we should stop fretting about how complex that makes it, and start embracing it. We saw a connection between Ancestral Foods and The Old Vine Conference, co-founded by Sarah Abbott MW, and of which Swirl is a corporate sponsor. One of the most powerful messages coming from the Old Vine Conferences is how heritage vineyards crack open a concept of vine and wine growing that connects. Including to this growing movement for ancestral foods, and regenerative agriculture.

Don’t sustain, regenerate

Beyond sustainability, regeneration is now the preoccupation for leaders in capital and agriculture. It’s no longer enough to “do no harm” – governments and industry are being forced to address how we can thrive and grow. Already we see much admired and dynamic wine producers describe their approach as “regenerative agriculture”. Don’t dismiss “Regen Ag” as a contrived gimmick. Its aims and principles are influencing agricultural policy all over the world. It’s coming for wine: this article this explains why.

Environmental Accountability

Wine has had a free pass from the consumer scrutiny of environmental impact that has glared upon fashion, travel and broader agriculture. Until recently. Aleesha Hansel’s call for the use of unnecessarily heavy wine bottles to be challenged was supported by Jancis Robinson MW and backed by data from International Wineries for Climate Action that bottle weight and transportation is wine’s biggest single contributor to carbon emissions. The push back she experienced only counterpoints the priceless leadership from IWCA and individuals such as Robinson and Hansel as well as alternative formats advocate Justin Howard Sneyd MW. We should also credit those business pioneers putting sustainable viticulture, wine quality, and environmental impact at the heart of their proposition, such as Melissa Saunders MW of Communal Brands, and Christina Rasmussen of Little Wine.

Destination Wine

With the staycation trend set to continue to the end of 2022 and beyond, we’re poised for the next phase of UK enotourism. It ties to Pinterest’s flagged ‘ancestral foods’ trend: learning about, and consuming, local products is at the heart of the UK’s wine tourism industry. We look forward to the emergence of enotourism experiences influenced by destinations like The Newt. This much hyped concept hotel and cidery is a great example of what can be achieved with wine – placing English wine in a lifestyle context to great effect.