English winemaker and crowdfunding veteran Chapel Down fizzes on US launch

Francesca Washtell
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Chapel Down is based at Tenterden in Kent (Source: Chapel Down)

Leading English winemaker Chapel Down has uncorked a new partnership to send its sparkling wine to the US for the first time.

The Kent-based producer has struck an agreement with luxury wine and spirit company ABCK Corp to distribute its wines to US bars, restaurants and retailers.

Shipments totalling 10,000 bottles are planned between now and the end of the year, though ABCK has said it is already under pressure to ship over more bottles after receiving an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction to Chapel Down's Three Graces wines.

Initially its Three Graces range will be the winemaker's sole export, with its sparkling Vintage Reserve Brut to follow in the new year, a spokesperson for Chapel Down told City A.M.

"There is a genuine sense of excitement amongst sommeliers, great restaurants and bars and high quality retailers about the significant opportunity that lies ahead for English sparkling wines," said Chapel Down managing director Mark Harvey.

Read more: Profits surge at Kent winemaker Chapel Down after large harvests

"We are looking forward to getting started."

The company's tipples are already available at several international locations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Copenhagen and Helsinki.

Secretary of state for environment and rural affairs, Andrea Leadsom, said: "There is no doubt there is a global thirst for our wine and this latest milestone from Chapel Down is further proof of the opportunities in the US for our top class producers. It's fantastic to see our vintners flying the flag for British produce overseas - showing our wine trade is very much open for business."

Read more: Britain is now the "beating heart" of the global wine trade

In 2015, sales at the company, which is an official wine supplier to Downing Street, grew 34 per cent to £8.2m and profits rose by 26 per cent to £3m.

Chapel Down has become a leading player in the crowdfunding scene, breaking records in 2014 when it raised £2.9m in 10 days from a funding campaign on Seedrs that eventually raised £4m, which it used to plant a further 82 aces of vineyard.

As well as producing sparkling wines, it also makes a number of still wines and is the company behind the beer and cider brewer Curious Drinks.

Demand for all kinds of sparkling wine has increased by 80 per cent over the last five years and this trend has lifted the UK's homegrown producers.

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