An­other vin­tage year is toasted by wine­maker

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

Wine­maker and brewer Chapel Down toasted an­other “ex­cel­lent year of growth” amid grow­ing de­mand for English wine and craft ales and lagers.

The com­pany in­creased sales by a quar­ter year on year to £10.2m last year, with wine sales up 22% to £6.8m and beer and cider up 32% to £3.4m.

Its wine is dis­trib­uted in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ma­jes­tic, as well as hun­dreds of bars and restau­rants.

In ad­di­tion, its Cu­ri­ous Brew beers and ciders have na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion through Ma­jes­tic and Waitrose and are be­ing stocked in top-end restau­rants, bars, ho­tels.

The com­pany raised £1.7m for the brand in a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign last year, which gave its new share­hold­ers a 9.79% eco­nomic share but a 50.21% share of the vot­ing rights in the beer busi­ness.

The cash will be used to de­velop the brand and to build a brew­ery in Ash­ford, on a site in Vic­to­ria Way, op­po­site Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional sta­tion.

The Ten­ter­den com­pany planted an­other 95 acres of vine­yards last year. It has 233 acres of owned or man­aged land cov­ered in vines across Kent and Sus­sex. The com­pany’s earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est, taxes and other charges grew 72% to £750,000.

It made a pre-tax profit of £765,000 com­pared with a loss of £279,000 in 2015.

Chair­man John Dun­smore said that the un­cer­tainty fol­low­ing the EU ref­er­en­dum has had no real im­pact on the busi­ness.

He s ai d: “We would be af­fected, like all agri­cul­tur­ally based busi­nesses if we were not able to ac­cess EU work­ers for our viti­cul­ture and the ex­per­tise in wine­mak­ing avail­able in Europe.”

Chapel Down won gold medals for its sparkling wines in the In­ter­na­tional Wine and Spir­its Chal­lenge 2016 and the Cham­pagne and Sparkling Wine World Cham­pi­onships 2016. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Frazer Thomp- son said: “English wines, which are now be­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised for their con­sis­tent ex­cel­lence, have been the bedrock of our busi­ness.

“De­mand is con­tin­u­ing to rise and we are de­vel­op­ing a very strong brand to en­sure we con­tinue to max­imise the po­ten­tial that is be­ing cre­ated through the con­sumer and trade ex­cite­ment around cool­cli­mate wines.”

Chapel Down chief ex­ec­u­tive Frazer Thomp­son and one of its suc­cess­ful prod­ucts

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