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Sparkling sales at winemaker Chapel Down in first half of 2016

By Chris Price

Britain’s love affair with English wine shows no sign of slowing as Chapel Down increased sales by more than a quarter to over £4 million in the first half of the year.

The company – which has vineyards in Tenterden, Blue Bell Hill and the Weald – boosted revenues from its red, white and bubbly by 14% to £2.6 million compared to the same period in 2015. Sparkling sales were up 11%.

Its investment in beer and cider also paid off, revealing in its half-year report that sales grew by more than half to £1.5 million.

Chapel Down has vineyards in Tenterden, Blue Bell Hill and west Kent

Chapel Down has vineyards in Tenterden, Blue Bell Hill and west Kent

It comes a month after it completed the purchase of 1.6 acres in Ashford on which it hopes to build a brewery for its Curious Drinks range of beers.

Earlier this year it raised more than £1.7 million for the project in a crowdfunding campaign.

It gave its new shareholders more than 50% of the voting rights in the Curious Drinks brand and nearly 10% of its economic value.

Bosses said they remain “cautiously optimistic” about continuing growth in sales in the second half of 2016 post-Brexit, Olympics and Euros.

Chapel Down is hoping to build a brewery for its Curious Drinks brand in Ashford

Chapel Down is hoping to build a brewery for its Curious Drinks brand in Ashford

Wine gross profit was up 18% at just over £1 million while beer and cider gross profit jumped 55% at £473,000.

Earnings before interest, taxes and other charges – the measure of the winemaker’s profitability – grew by 11% to £93,000.

It planted 95 acres of new vineyards during the period, including 40 acres on newly leased sites in Kent and 55 acres with contract partners.

Chief executive Frazer Thompson said the company was also encouraged by the prospect of another good harvest this year.

Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson

Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson

He said: “We continue to deliver good growth, with sales and gross profits both growing strongly.

“Consumers’ interest in English wines and specialist or craft beer shows no sign of abating and Chapel Down has worked hard to be well positioned to benefit.

“We are planting more vines in the finest sites, improving our production facilities, winemaking equipment and systems and developing our people and brands.

“The successful fundraising of £1.7 million for Curious Drinks will enable us to build an exciting new brewery and develop our business for the long term.

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