The United Kingdom Vineyard Association (UKVA) has announced the appointment of its first chief executive officer, Barry Lewis.
The UKVA has recently undergone internal reform in response to the needs of the fast and ever-expanding UK wine industry.
The new CEO's responsibility will be to build the UKVA into an efficient central industry body, delivering core services to the growers and producers in the UK, such as quality, technical and legislative support.
The CEO will work directly with the UKVA Council, co-ordinate the newly-formed management committee, liaise with regional associations and build membership.
Speaking on the appointment, UKVA chairman Sam Lindo, commented, "We're delighted to welcome Barry, who comes to us with a wealth of experience and will help us start a new chapter for the organisation. The UK wine industry has grown exponentially in recent decades and we need to continually respond to the ever growing needs of its members. This is another milestone for the UKVA as the industry trade body representing growers and wine producers."
Lindo went on to say that "key to the success of our industry and its future is producing quality grapes, working hand in hand to promote and advise the industry".
That is where the UKVA can have a real impact as the "go-to organisation" representing growers and lobbying to ensure that there are effective schemes in place to promote growth, and that there "aren't too many regulatory barriers in the way".
Businessman and former professional archaeologist Lewis is a grower and English wine merchant. He owns and runs Derbyshire vineyard Amber Valley Wines and online retail business The English Wine Shop with business partner Duncan Mercer. He also has experience in local politics as a County Council political group leader.
Commenting on his new role, Lewis said, "I'm delighted to be taking on this new challenge with the UKVA, and am looking forward to working with the Chairman and the industry committees to formulate and deliver a new business plan.
He went on, "The skills I have and the experience I have gained over the years will, I believe, help me deliver for the English wine industry. I have watched and grown with it in a way and I'm extremely proud that I will be part of the story of its development, working with other growers and producers throughout the country to make the English wine industry the best that it can be."
UKVA will continue to work closely with English Wine Producers (EWP), the marketing association that promotes and communicates about English wines nationally and internationally.
Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of EWP, said: “Congratulations to Barry on this new role. His input will undoubtedly help to shape the UKVA as it moves forward and we look forward to working with him. EWP members are UKVA members and therefore welcome a move to improve the support and services that the growers and producers so vitally need.”
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