Chapel Down raises £18.5m to plant more vineyards, grow beer business and consolidate

 
Alys Key
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CEO Frazer Thompson is toasting a new tranche of funding for the business (Source: Chapel Down)

Chapel Down has raised a further £18.5m to put English wine on the map, literally.

The pioneering brand of English wine, which is now served at Downing Street, announced today that it would invest in new vineyards with the money.

It will also put more money into its emerging beers business, which Chapel Down boss Frazer Thompson told City A.M. could have a bigger market than Brewdog and other craft producers.

Investors included IPGL, the family office of City grandee Michael Spencer. The company's directors now own 32.4 per cent of the business, with long-standing investor Nigel Wray holding the biggest stake of 21.5 per cent.

Today Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down, told City A.M. that the funding would also allow the company to be in a better position in the event of consolidation.

"In all the wine markets we've looked at, once there's a huge excitement - as there has been in English wine - people tend to overplant," he said. "Then there's a shrinking down and consolidation. When consolidation happens we want to be in a good position."

Some of the money will go towards Chapel Down's beer business Curious, including a bar and visitor experience at its Ashford brewery.

Thompson explained that the investment in beer, which is headed by former Brewdog MD Gareth Bath, was down to the potential for faster and more widespread growth.

"Most of the world drinks lager," he said. "This is a better tasting lager and it's made uniquely by a winemaker using champagne yeast and the scope of the opportunity is simply huge. Brewdog and other beers like that appeal to the cognoscenti of the craft beer world, which is maybe 10 or 15 per cent of people. This has a much wider appeal."

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