Leading champage houses are looking across the Channel in search of new vineyards to meet a boom in demand. Sunday Telegraph

Senior industry figures have toured south-east England with a view to buying up land, planting vines and producing fine sparkling wine. The move comes as Champagne enjoys a surge in popularity. British supermarkets and wine merchants have reported sales growth of up to 40% this year. Major retailers have slashed prices in the run up to New Year’s Eve, with some labels selling for as little as £10.

Globally, Champagne houses shipped 333 million bottles in 2006 — 11 million more than in the previous year. Despite last year’s harvest producing the largest volume ever, the tiny, 135-square-mile region that is officially allowed to use the name is struggling to cope with demand.

While an acre of established vineyard in the Champagne region would cost £300,000, an acre of land in England suitable for planting vines would cost only £10,000.