Funding this year was cut from around £200,000 to £30,000, Graham Hines, who represents the institute in the UK, told OLN, adding: “We have done an awful lot of things this year, but mostly completely unfunded – we have just done it by organising ourselves.”
Activities have included a sherry and food competition for chefs, a bursary scheme to hold sherry dinners and tastings for consumers, and presenting poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy with a butt of sherry, the traditional perk of the post.
“For next year the Sherry Institute is conducting research into all the major markets to see where it should spend money – mature or new markets,” Hines said.
A decision is expected by Christmas.
Sherry importers urged the institute to invest in the UK to capitalise on the sherry revival that has seen value sales in the on-trade surge 9%, the first increase in many years, according to Nielsen.
Lustau importer Fields Morris & Verdin’s marketing manager Lenka Sedlackova said: “There is definitely a rising interest so we need to keep the momentum. If you stop all of a sudden it could go into reverse.”
Olly Bartlett, of Indigo Wines – which has just signed up boutique bodega Maestro Sierra – said: “Graham should be garlanded and given loads more wedge in order to catch the moment and help to educate the new wave of sommeliers and independent merchants coming through.
“A trip to Jerez is the surefire way to help its profile and make people ‘get’ this unique wine.”
González Byass marketing director Jeremy Rockett added: “We have always ploughed our own furrow, but anything the generic does to promote it is great.”