Another vintage year is toasted by winemaker
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