English wine and beer producer Chapel Down has secured £4.3m in funding to invest in vine planting and expand its burgeoning beer business.
Chapel Down’s CEO Frazer Thompson. Credit: Steve Burton Photography
The company aims to plant vines at its base in Kent, along with Sussex and Essex, and is set to build a brewery for its Curious Brew range, having acquired the 30% stake of Curious Drinks Limited that it does not currently own.
John Dunsmore, former chief executive of brewer Scottish & Newcastle (which was jointly bought by Heineken and Carlsberg in 2008) has been appointed to the Chapel Down board as chairman-designate to help oversee the company’s development.
Dunsmore’s investment company, the Hothouse Club, put up £2.4m of the £4.3m funding.
Chapel Down’s chief executive Frazer Thompson described the move as a “step change” for the company.
Chapel Down Curious Brew
“The Chapel Down story is gaining pace and we’re about to start an exciting new phase of development through further acreage and expanded production facilities, including our own brewery,” he said.
“These are exciting times for English sparkling wine – it took us four years to make a profit and we doubled our profits last year. We sell everything we make,” he added.
In the last few years, Chapel Down has been growing its export business to countries including Japan, Thailand, Sweden, Canada, the UAE and France.
Despite the estate’s continued success, earlier this year Thompson warned that consolidation was on the horizon for the English sparkling wine industry.
We can’t sustain our current growth rate and I envisage consolidation is going to take place within the industry in the next five years. There will be casualties,” he said.
Thompson revealed that balancing the Chapel Down business by selling beer and still wine has helped give lessen company’s reliance on its flagship sparklers, mitigating the risk of lesser vintages such as 2012.
Last year, Chapel Down posted a pre-tax profit of £413,829, with a turnover of £4.8m.