Kent vineyard submits plans for winery and visitor centre

Meopham Valley Vineyard in Kent has submitted a £1.2 million project to construct a winery and visitor centre on its 25-acre site.

The vineyard, which currents using contract services to make its wine, was established in 1991 by David and Pauline Grey. The Greys subsequently sold the vineyard to their former employees Ben and Surjit Bassi in 2014.

Currently just five of the total 25 acres acres are planted with vines. According to documents filed with Gravesham Council, there are plans to increase the area under vine to 14.5 acres, increasing the current production capacity from 15,000-25,000 bottles a year to 43,500-72,500 bottles.

The Bassis explained that they currently have no facilities for processing or storing wine, resulting in additional annual costs. This always carries an element of risk with the vineyard losing 40% of its crop last year after being unable to sell its grapes to contractors due to the “saturated” market.

The pair also noted in the planning documents that a lack of facilities mean their site is more difficult to secure, a contributing factor to the theft of £40,000 worth of vineyard equipment this year. Finally, they wrote that the lack of a visitor centre has meant they have lost out on income generated through tours and tastings. Tourism sales are estimated to account for 30% of total income for a winery in England.

As well as winemaking and storage facilities, the plans also include space for a wine shop, tasting area, kitchen, office, laboratory and outdoor seating as well as a parking area.

There are also plans for the creation of Meopham Valley Vineyard Transport, a scheme which sees the vineyard team up with local businesses Jet Stream Tours, the Maidstone Gin Distillery, the Hop Farm and Panic Rooms to use a 15-seater minibus to pick up visitors from transport hubs and take them around the area.

The vineyard is currently planted with seven grape varieties, which include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Madeleine Angevine, Léon Millot, Triomphe d’Alsace and Reichensteiner, and makes both still and sparkling wine.

Surinder Bassi, son of the owners, told Kent Online that the project is predicted to cost £1.2 million.

He said: “We know the soil is perfect. Chalk is perfect for cultivating grapes. But the problem is we don’t have any facilities there. We don’t have a winery, we don’t have a storage facility, so we are at a massive disadvantage.

“All our wines are being stored 30 miles away in Canterbury – the cost is very expensive.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters