Kent-based English wine producer Chapel Down has received planning approval for a near-12,000 sq m winery, as the company forges ahead with expansion plans.

Chapel Down CEO Andrew Carter said the new site will have the capacity to produce six million bottles a year. The £32 million project includes an 11,900 sq m winery as well as 8,000 sq m of warehousing.

Carter said the aim is to have the new site, at Canterbury Business Park, up and running “in time for the 2025 harvest”.

“The facility will put Canterbury at the heart of the English wine region,” Carter said. “Canterbury is twinned with Reims, which is at the heart of the Champagne region.”

Carter said Chapel Down’s Tenterden winery would stay in production, alongside the new facility.

“Tenterden will continue to produce our luxury wines and we’ll also increase our tourism and education offering there,” he added.

In a recent results announcement, Chapel Down reported the completion of vineyard plantings at Boarley on the Kent Downs, which has added 118 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Planning is underway for 2024 plantings, which is expected to take total acreage under vine to around 1,000 acres.

Carter said the plan between 2021 and 2026 was to double the size of the business, to three million bottles per year. The new Canterbury facility will set the producer up for future growth ambitions.

In terms of where new business will come from, Carter said the company is looking to grow several channels, with off-trade initiatives including adding a rosé to sit alongside the flagship Brut.

“Consumer awareness of our brand is very high among sparkling wine drinkers,” Carter added. “Some 37% have heard of Chapel Down and 14% have bought or consumed the brand in the last 12 months – that’s a high conversion rate.”