English winemaker Chapel Down raises a glass to record sales


Chapel Down raises a glass to record sales as the English wine industry goes from strength to strength

Chapel Down hailed a ‘spectacular’ Christmas as the English wine industry goes from strength to strength.

England’s biggest wine producer sold 100,000 bottles of fizz in December, ten times more than a year earlier when the Covid pandemic put paid to family gatherings.

Boss Andrew Carter said ‘December was spectacular’ and customers ‘wanted to treat themselves’.

Lovely bubbly: Chapel Down sold 100,000 bottles of fizz in December, ten times more than a year earlier when the Covid pandemic put paid to family gatherings

They increasingly opted for English sparkling wine over French Champagne, he added.

Carter, 54, said: ‘If you put a bottle of Chapel Down on your Christmas table, it made a real statement about what you believe in and who you are as a consumer.’

He believes English sparkling wine fans are trend setters, with the tipple only set to become more popular.

Chapel Down’s roaring Christmas capped a year in which it sold a record 790,000 bottles of sparkling wine. 

Overall sales jumped by a tenth to £15.6million, with the business saying it carried ‘significant momentum’ into this year. 

And in a sign of the growing appeal of British bubbly against its French and Spanish rivals, Chapel Down saw a surge in sales at bars and restaurants, as well as exports abroad.

Carter, who took over Chapel Down in 2021, said: ‘It has been a fantastic year, we are producing award-winning sparkling wines and consumers are discovering that in droves.’

The English wine industry has been booming for the past decade, helped by warmer temperatures for grape growing. The climate has even attracted French champagne houses to set up shop in the UK.

And Simon Thorpe, the boss of trade organisation Wine GB, said there is a ‘solid pipeline of growth’ for the coming years for the industry. Last year saw another surge in vineyards being planted, with a total of 897 in England and Wales.

Thorpe added there has also been a shift in consumer preferences toward sparkling wine, and English sparkling wines in particular.

‘People increasingly find buying local important and like being able to understand where their product has come from. Consumers are definitely getting more engaged in English and Welsh wines, too. It is a bit of a cool thing to have on your table now.’

Carter said 2023 is set to be another bumper year for Chapel Down, with customers set to brush off the rising cost of living. 

He said: ‘Drinks are slightly more recession-proof, and even in tougher times people want to buy something to celebrate and enjoy with family and friends.’

Chapel Down’s shares, owned by an army of 8,500 wine enthusiasts who enjoy discounts on its products, rose 3.6 per cent, or 1.38p, to 39.5p.

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