Barclay brothers to close Sark Vineyard

A vineyard set up by UK billionaires the Barclay brothers in the Channel Islands is to close after just six years, with its owners blaming an “attack” on alcohol taxation by its government.

Panorama-@-La-Coupee-RS-642x335Sark Vineyards, which covers 60 hectares on Sark – a car free island off the coast of Normandy but which is a protectorate of the English Crown – was set up by identical twins Sir David and Frederick Barclay – who own the Daily Telegraph and the Ritz London – in 2010.

The pair’s 60 hectare vineyard is made up of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Gamay, Muller-Thurgau and Albarino, with its wine production overseen by Bordeaux winemaker Alain Raynaud since it was founded.

However last week Sark Vineyards Ltd (SVL) announced its closure in Sark, with its website already appearing to have been taken down. Despite investing millions in the project since 2010, the company said it “fails to see any future in Sark or its economy”.

Blaming the authorities in Sark for an ‘attack’ on alcohol taxation, the statement read: “The decision of 5 October 2016 to introduce taxation of alcohol production itself, amounting to a tax on one industry only on Sark, severely undermines the future financial viability of the business.”

“The Sark alcohol production tax would have been unique in the Channel Islands, and indeed in the Western World, in the way it was applied and was uniquely tailored in order to attack the vineyards, its operators and investors.”

Adding: “The proposed legislation to introduce an equivalence tax is further evidence that the authorities in Sark will stop at nothing to halt desperately needed inward investment into the island. Rather than follow the Guernsey solution which taxes conveyancing by way of share transfer, the wholly unelected Chief Pleas intends to tax company ownership of land and property on an annual basis in order to extort large amounts of revenue from Sark’s principal investor.”

The Government of Sark denies levying any taxes on the product, and says the cost of the licence to produce alcoholic products is intended to cover the cost of implementing the necessary laws, and was not a tax on alcohol itself.

As for a second equivalence tax, a statement said the proposal would relate to “property quarters and is not a tax on land”.

“It is intended to close a loophole and note raise extra taxes,” the statement said. “Therefore it is not clear how SVL conclude this ‘severely undermines the future financial viability of the business’.”

Sark Vineyards says it has about 28,000 bottles of sparkling wine in various stages of ageing, with the 2014 vintage expected to be released in December 2019.

In total, 25 full and part time jobs are expected to be lost with its closure.

3 Responses to “Barclay brothers to close Sark Vineyard”

  1. Artemisia_46 says:

    I am pretty shocked that the government would introduce such a tax, calling it the ‘cost of the licence’ – it seems to me that this is indeed, unique. The Barclay brothers are singled out time-and-again.

    They are pro-democracy and they understand what democracy means. They also understand that the hostility they face is unfair. Supposing I moved to the isle of wight, and because of my ancestry was told that I didn’t have the same rights as those born on the island. Of course I’d fight it! It all started because they wanted to split their wealth equally among their kids rather than leave it all to the eldest boy. Seem an ok concept to you? Well you wouldn’t believe the extent to which those precious government officials took umbrage at the challenge to their traditions. It’s been fight fight fight ever since – everything the Barclays propose gets knocked down in an attempt either to leverage them to pay more and more money unfairly or tie them up in endless litigation which drains their energy and their time. These are two elderly gentlemen who have contributed hugely to the prosperity of our nation – to millions of people. Have a look at the pic of Fred fixing his brother’s hair on their knighthood day – they’re really sweet. Leave them alone.

  2. Big Roly says:

    Artemisia_46 : Fess up now. You are in fact Kevin and I claim my £5!

  3. Stephen Skelton says:

    Have these vineyards now been grubbed up?

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