I’ll drink to that: Sales at British winemaker Chapel Down up a third

Madeline Ratcliffe
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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, picks some Chardonnay grapes during her visit to the Chapel Down Winery (Source: Getty)
British winemaker Chapel Down announced sparkling interim results yesterday, with year-on-year sales up 33 per cent and gross profits up to £1.17m, a 31 per cent increase on the year before.

The Kent-based vineyard’s speciality – sparkling wines – enjoyed a 45 per cent increase in sales, accounting for £2.28m of the total figure of £3.25m. Total sales in the first half of 2014 came to £2.44m.

Indeed, demand for wines has been so high the company has had to “sustainably manage” their supplies, so they do not oversell.

The company also started brewing craft beer and cider in 2011, and has seen success there too, with sales up 33 per cent.

Chief executive Frazer Thompson said the company’s Curious Brew lager was riding on the back of the trend for craft beer. He told City A.M.: “Craft beers have been motoring along for four or five years before people started reporting on it. But this year… it suddenly went boom!”

Thompson attributed the growth of the trend to “leaving the football and lager louts image behind. [And] a growing number of women entering the market”.

Thompson was formerly global brand director for Heineken, which recently brought craft brand Lagunitas. He said he was happy to leave behind the world of brewing giants and mega deals. “It was like drinking beer with the taste of corporate cardboard,” he said.

Crowd-funded investment last year allowed the company, which supplies the Royal Opera House, to plant 82 acres of new vineyards, and was responsible for an increase in expenditure, which ate into cash profits. These were £84,000 for the period, up from £74,000 last year.

The company has ambition – last week LVMH’s Mark Harvey was appointed managing director of wine.

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