Fifteen years ago Chapel Down Wines embarked on a journey to transform the public opinion of English wine. It’s been a long, tough and sometimes frustrating mission, but today the business is on a global charge.
In July 2013, the Tenterden-based wine and beer producer raised £4.35 million with an equity issue mainly through large investors and institutions. The proceeds enabled increased wine and beer production, as well as improving systems, winery equipment, hiring new people and marketing.
Then in 2014 Chapel Down became the first quoted company in the UK to use crowdfunding to reach investors, successfully securing more than €5 million. This enabled the planting of more vines; work on a new winery, distribution and storage facility; a brewery and visitor attraction; and extended hospitality facilities.
Chapel Down’s Frazer Thompson said: “Kent is the Garden of England. In every sense. It’s a beautiful place to create, to grow, to nurture and to enjoy. Being a wine company that tries to do things other people can’t, Kent is the place to be.”
English wines, and Chapel Down in particular, have been winning critical acclaim and recognition for the last ten years. In 2013, Chapel Down won three gold medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards. English wines are now regularly awarded gold medals and trophies by the International Wine Challenge Awards and International Wine and Spirit Awards.
Today, Chapel Down is and official supplier to No 10 Downing Street, and are the first English wine producer to feature in the London Stock Exchange’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ and the directory of ‘Cool Brands™ 2016/17’.
The Kentish vineyard considers Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Waitrose, Majestic and Marks and Spencer among its many customers: English wine is no longer an unusual quirky addition to a wine list, but an essential component to satisfy a discerning consumer looking for great tasting, consistent and well-presented drinks.
The company has also risen to the opportunities presented by the emergence of craft beers. Its Curious Brew won gold at the International Brewing Awards and the trophy for best lager under five per cent in 2012.