ENGLISH sparkling wine exports increased to a record 27 countries this year - with Sussex vineyards leading the way.

The number of countries now importing our sparkling wines grew by a third over the last 12 months, up from 19 in 2015, trade figures show.

France, Italy, Japan and Taiwan are among the importers, and the first two full containers of English wine arrived in New York earlier this year.

Sussex is leading the way when it comes to producing wine, with a range of top vineyards including Ridgeview in Ditchling Common, Nyetimber in West Chiltington and Bolney Wine Estate.

Ridgeview sales and marketing manager Mardi Roberts said the company had been working extensively to increase its exports and was 100 per cent up on this year compared to last year.

The company now exports to 14 countries including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the US and Canada.

She said: "We have just begun exporting to the Caribbean as well and are hoping to expand further across the US next year.

"The success of English wines has given it an international profile in the global wine world and that is a testament to the quality of wine produced."

English wine producers have secured contracts with some of the world's most exclusive restaurants and hotels such as The Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the Ritz in London, while the UK collected 120 medals at this year's International Wine Challenge, the International wine and Spirit Competition and Decanter World Wine Awards.

Chalky soils, south-facing slopes and warm temperatures mean conditions are ideal for producing wine in the UK and the industry now boasts sales of around £100 million a year.

Growing demand has led to land under vine doubling over the last 10 years, with 30 vineyards opening in the last two years alone.

English Wine Producers chairman Simon Robinson said: "It's boom-time for English wines.

"The growing trend on the high street shows the retailers have really got behind them and the wine consumers of Britain are responding.

"Our export sales are also on the up, with new markets opening up around the world. We're looking forward to even more wines coming on to the market next year."

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale said: "As we always expected the word has spread and English wine is now internationally recognised as a premium quality product and very much in demand.

"The WSTA were proud to lead the first ever English wine roundtable in March 2016 when the major producers committed to ambitious targets of increasing exports tenfold to 2.5 million bottles by 2020. It is fantastic to hear we are well on our way to achieving this."