Chapel Down to create England's largest vineyard

Chapel Down is set to create England’s largest vineyard by extending its North Downs plot in Kent by another 157ha.

It has exchanged on an agreement to lease the land that adjoins its existing vineyards in Boxley, resulting in a total area under long-term leases of 319ha.

That will see it eclipse the likes of Rathfinny and Denbies to result in England’s largest plot of land under vine.

Chapel Down is already England’s largest wine producer, but it needed more land to meet ever-increasing demand.

Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “This is more exciting news for Chapel Down and the English sparkling wine business. The Boxley site is close to our existing vineyard at Kits Coty and our other recently vined sites at Court Lodge Farm and Street Farm on the North Downs.

“We believe this area of the North Downsoffers the finest terroir in England for sparkling varieties and successive excellent crops and critical acclaim for wines from our Kits Coty vineyard prove it.

“This will be the largest vineyard in England, with the potential to produce up to a million bottles of sparkling wine per annum when mature.

“The sites will be planted over the coming years to enable us to grow our business to satisfy the increasing demand for Chapel Down wines over the next 25 years.”

The total area under vine from which Chapel Down will source its grapes – including owned land, land under long term leases and contract supply – will now stand at around 385ha.

The completion of the lease is subject to the Landlord obtaining vacant possession of the land and associated agricultural buildings that is anticipated on or around October 11, 2018.

Chapel Down announced 15% sales growth in sales for 2017, compared to the year before, driven by both its wine and its beer businesses.

Wine sales for the group grew by 20% to £8.1 million, while its beer and cider business - under the Curious Drinks name - saw sales rise 7% to £3.7 million in 2017. Gross profit for each business grew 12% to £3.2 million and 11% to £1.2 million respectively.

That trend looks set to continue this year as it goes on the expansion trail and continues to win legions of new fans.

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