Boutinot buys English vineyard

Boutinot is set to take its first foray into English winemaking after buying Sussex-based Henners Vineyard for an undisclosed sum.

The UK agent and importer has distributed Henners Vineyard’s since the English winery issued its first vintage release five year ago, and the Henners winemaking team will stay on and work with Boutinot’s head winemaker Eric Monnin, who joined Boutinot in 2012.

The East Sussex vineyard was established in 2007 by former Formula 1 engineer Lawrence Warr in Herstmonceux, and comprises 10 acres of Chardonnay (40%),  Pinot Noir (38%) and Pinot Meunier (22%) vines on sandstone soils situated 24 metres above sea level. According to land agent BTF Partnership, which marketed the property, there are a further 5 acres on the estate that are suitable for planting.

The winery, which has been extended twice since it was built in 2009, can produce around 60,000 bottles of sparkling wine a year, and currently produced around 20,000 – 23,000 bottles per year from the vineyard, along with an additional 25,000 – 30,000 bottles as part of a long-term contract winemaker agreement with a Kent winemaker.

The Henners range currently constitutes three sparkling cuvées – a Vintage, Vintage Reserve and Rosé NV – which have been available to the UK off- and on-trade through Boutinot since 2012.

“We are a business which is passionate about wine and wants to get under the skin of everywhere we’re working,” Boutinot Managing Director Dennis Whiteley said. “That’s why we’re making our own wines in France, Italy, South Africa and around the world, and it’s why we’ve jumped at the chance to see what we can do on our own doorstep.”

He described Henners philosophy as a “perfect fit” for Boutinot, adding: “We cannot wait to dig deep into the potential that we know is there for English wine.”

The UK-based producer, importer and distributor, which was bought in a management buy out in March 2013, supplies restaurants, retailers and wholesalers across the UK on and off-trade, with its own products, the ‘Made by Boutinot’ portfolio, and more than a hundred agencies that it represents across the Old and New World. Boutinot began to produce its own wines in France in 1989, and later added South Africa in 1994 and Italy to its portfolio in 2003.

In December 2015, Champagne Taittinger became the first Champagne house to invest directly in English sparkling wine, when it announced the foundation of a new vineyard and winery, Domaine Evremond, at a 69 hectare plot in Kent. This was followed by Champagne Pommery who announced a partnership with Hampshire wine producer Hattingley Valley.

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