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Chapel Down toasts 'excellent year' as it grows sales of English wine and craft beers

By Chris Price

Beer and winemaker 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 £10.2 million in 2016, with wine sales up 22% to £6.8 million and beer and cider up 32% to £3.4 million.

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

Chapel Down is stocked in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and Majestic

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

It raised £1.7 million 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 business.

The cash will be used to develop the brand and to build a brewery in Ashford.

The Tenterden-based company planted another 95 acres of new vineyards last year. It has 233 acres of owned or managed land covered in vines across Kent and Sussex.

Grape varieties grown today are different to those grown in Kent 40 years ago

Earnings before interest, taxes and other charges grew 72% to £750,000.

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

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

He added: “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 chief executive Frazer Thompson

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 Thompson 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 cool climate wines.”

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