English vineyard gears up to fund £4m growth plan

18 February, 2011

Hampshire’s oldest commercial vineyard

Hambledon has recruited two new board members as it prepares for a £4 million share issue to fund ambitious growth plans.?Andrew Christie-Miller, a former grain trader who now has his own vineyard in Italy, has joined as chairman, and John Armit – founder of London fine wine merchant John Armit Wines and former managing director of Corney & Barrow – has also joined the set-up. Armit has relinquished day-to-day involvement in the company that carries his name.?Hambledon is raising the cash to fund a reconstruction of the winery, new plantings and provide working capital for production. The aim is to take production to 250,000 bottles a year.?Hambledon was opened in 1952 and was replanted with the classic Champagne grape varieties in 2005. It’s located on Champagne-like, south-facing chalk slopes with a similar climate to the French region.?The vineyard is looking to raise funds through an Enterprise Investment Scheme issue, which is designed to help smaller, higher-risk companies to raise finance by offering tax relief to investors buying new shares.?Managing director Ian Kellett said: “As crucial as raising the EIS equity is, the strength of the management team is key

to delivering an award-winning English sparkling wine.”?The company’s website says it intends to develop the Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones brand – named after the vineyard’s founder and the founding president of the English Vineyards Association – as “our own Dom Perignon for the UK sparkling wine industry”.?Applications close on March 30 for Hambledon’s EIS scheme.

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