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Chapel Down starts vine planting at new 388-acre site in Boarley Farm, Boxley

Planting has started at a major new vineyard on the North Downs as part of a push to further boost production of sparkling wine.

Chapel Down, which is based in Tenterden, confirmed last September it had acquired a new 388-acre site making it both the biggest vineyard in England and capable of producing one million bottles of bubbly.

The site at Boarley Farm in Boxley, near Maidstone, borders its existing vineyards at Kit's Coty and Boxley.

Chapel Down has started planting on new 388-acre site in Sandling, near Maidstone (9322086)
Chapel Down has started planting on new 388-acre site in Sandling, near Maidstone (9322086)

Combined they will form a 620-acre estate of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier vines.

Mark Harvey, Chapel Down managing director, explained: “This is a really exciting development. Demand for our traditional method sparkling wine is sky high and these plantings enable us to really accelerate sales in the years to come. And with wines of great quality too - we know this from the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Kit’s Coty collection from the same estate”.

The company also confirmed it will be changing the colour of its bottles to ensure the product remains in optimum condition.

Chapel Down's Bacchus 2016 for its Kit's Coty vineyard
Chapel Down's Bacchus 2016 for its Kit's Coty vineyard

Winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire, explains: “The move to dark amber glass on our sparkling wine is the result of an internal five year project into the impact of UV light on wine. We spend a huge amount of energy producing the fruit right in the vineyards and then years to make and mature the wine so it makes sense to remove any potential risk of this quality being eroded due to glass colour.”

The move will be phased as each new vintage is released and is timed with refreshed packaging of the core Chapel Down sparkling wines with differentiation to allow consumers to navigate across the range from non-vintage to vintage and white to rose.

Chapel Down has also expanded into the world or premium spirits over the last 18 months, with gin and vodka launches.

Chapel Down's Kit's Coty vineyard (9323088)
Chapel Down's Kit's Coty vineyard (9323088)

The company is also behind the Curious Brewery which is due to finally open in the Ashford next month.

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