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Wine vintages slashed in Kent after rains

Chapel Down vineyard in more sunny conditions

Kent's vineyards have been hard hit by this year's downpours - with one winery losing half its stock and another declaring no vintage at all.

Chapel Down wines, which produces world-renowned wines in Tenterden, has seen the number of bottles it has produced fall by as much as half compared to an average year.

Frazer Thompson, Chapel Down chief executive, admitted the wetter weather has made it a difficult year.

He said: “The English wine industry’s producing around two and half million bottles of wine a year on average - this year I’ll be surprised if we’re producing much more than a million bottles.”

This June was one of the wettest on record, meaning the grapevines had little time to flower.

But Mr Thompson remained upbeat for the future of Chapel Down, as the company has its vineyards spread out across the southern counties and he urged others to follow suit.

“We’ve set up a successful business model," he said, "that sources our fruit from Essex and Suffolk right the way round to the Hampshire border, so if it’s particularly bad in one area we don’t have a complete collapse.”

But another vineyard in Kent has been forced to cancel its entire vintage this year.

Only set up in 2009, the Kent Vineyard in Cranbrook was due to produce its first wines last year - but the grapes were destroyed by frost.

This year's vintage has now been scrapped too.

The Kent Vineyard in Cranbrook could only harvest enough grapes for 100 bottles, so has decided not send them to a professional wine-maker.

Instead they intend on learning how to make wine themselves.

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