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Chapel Down wine maker in Tenterden expects record harvest of grapes this year after difficult period when profits fell

By Chris Price

Wine maker Chapel Down is expecting a record harvest this year and is forecasting a huge growth on the back of some tough years.

Bosses at the vineyards near Tenterden believe this year's crop will be at least 10% larger than 2013, which itself produced record volumes of grapes.

It comes after two years of very low harvests in 2011 and 2012, which yielded about 300 tons each.

Chapel Down is expecting its second record harvest in two years

Despite 2013's record harvest of about 700 tons, the company announced a slump in pre-tax profits to £68m on the year, down from £414,000, after a fall in wine sales of 24%.

However, chief executive Frazer Thompson said there is a new wave of optimism about the vineyard’s potential to grow in the near future.

He said: "Anybody giving a forecast for a harvest is a fool, but this year is looking spectacularly good.

"It follows our record harvest last year and I think we will see a harvest in excess of 10% greater than that in terms of volume this time.

Chapel Down Winery

"More importantly, we are expecting it to be one of the great years in terms of quality.

"The sunshine and the warmth that we have had of late has been sensational and it has given us what we hope is going to be a true vintage year in English wine."

Although it is difficult to translate the financial impact of the larger harvest at this stage, last year the vineyard was able to make about 700,000 bottles of wine from its bumper crop.

A bottle of its Bacchus white wine costs £11.99, while a bottle of its English Rose Vintage Reserve Brut costs £19.99.

Brexit fears over a shortage of fruit pickers at Chapel Down

Mr Thompson added: "That enables us after two low years to get back into growth much more rapidly.

"We are looking forward to being able to produce a lot more sparkling wine, available for market in the second half of next year.

"We are already starting to see the benefit so far this year in the still wines that we got from 2013. That is growth we are expecting to be able to replicate next year as we get a good harvest."

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