Chapel Down toasts "excellent year"
Chapel Down has announced last year was “another fantastic year of growth” with year-on-year sales up by 25% to £6.8m, and wine gross profit up by 30% to £2.8m.
Its beer and cider sales from its associate company Curious Drinks rose by 32% to £3.4m, with gross profit from this arm of the business up by 39% to £1.1m.
The English wine producer said that last year it planted 95 acres of new vineyards, of which 40 acres are on its new leased sites in Kent and 55 acres are with contract partners.
Chairman John Dunsmore said: “Chapel Down has enjoyed another excellent year of growth. In a highly competitive trading environment the company has continued to invest in the value of its brands, its vineyards and winery and its people as we build a healthy, sustainable and innovative drinks company with an exciting future both at home in the UK and in sophisticated drinks markets abroad.
“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. With distribution in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Tesco and Majestic, as well as hundreds of bars and restaurants services by our merchant partners, Chapel Down is able to capitalise on the increased excitement.
“’Craft’ beers are growing very fast, driven by more flavoursome beers that are the antidote to bland international brands that have become overly dominant. There is a vibrancy and excitement to the UK beer market, fuelled by spectacular success in the USA, which is spreading internationally. With sales growth of 32% this year, in our associate company Curious Drinks, we are extremely well positioned to benefit from the boom.”
The company has raised further funds via crowdfunding to develop a new brewery in the centre of Ashford.
Dunsmore added that the company had plans to further develop its facilities at Tenterden to enhance its existing tourism and hospitality experience, and this would also be extended to the new brewery. As part of this, the company has just opened a new tasting room at the winery called The Wine Sanctuary, which is a custom-built tasting room featuring a wine bar. The new facility will welcome up to 60 guests at a time for in-depth wine tastings. Guided tours of the vineyards and winery together, with a tutored wine tasting will cost £15 per person between April and November. Gift experiences, which include a three course lunch, cost £60 each.