Flying the flag for English wine as Chapel Down heads stateside

    Frazer Thompson and Mark Harvey

    Kent winemaker Chapel Down is set to make its debut across the Atlantic after signing a partnership with an American distribution company to ship 10,000 bottles to the USA by the end of the year.

    The Tenterden-based vineyard, which supplied sparkling wine for the wedding of the Duke and Dutchess of Kent, will sell its vintages through the specialist distribution firm ABCK Corp.

    It comes as the Chief Executive of Chapel Down, Frazer Thompson, embarks on a charm offensive in the lucrative market by hosting a launch party next month at the New York British Consulate General, followed by a tour of the key states.

    ABCK Corp, which has teams in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, was chosen as the distributor of choice thanks to its experience in the luxury wine sector.

    It is headed by Champagne connoisseur Arnaud Brachet, who said their trial of the Chapel Down’s Three Graces vintage in some of the country’s best restaurants, bars and retailers had elicited an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ reaction.

    He added: “We have been truly impressed by the quality of Chapel Down’s sparkling wines and by the integrity of their team at every single level.

    “Chapel Down brings a new quality standard for sparkling wines in the industry, with a British sophistication and wit that resonate very well with American wine lovers.”

    Mark Harvey, Chapel Down Managing Director, said: “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. We are looking forward to getting started!”

    Chapel Down has experienced years of high growth and has diversified into beer and ciders under its Curious Brew label.

    Listed on the junior stock exchange ISDX, the winemaker drew headlines for its successful use of crowdfunding to build a new brewery in Ashford last year.

    The rapid growth of the company has been matched by the increasing value of its share price over recent years, with shares currently listed at 55.5p, up from a low of 10p in 2011. Its market ­capitalisation is currently valued at £56million.

    Chapel Down’s success is even being championed by the Government, with former Tonbridge Grammar pupil Andrea Leadsom saying it was fantastic to see the firm ‘flying the flag’ for British produce overseas.

    Mrs Leadsom, who was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in July, added: “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.

    “Thanks to the innovation and hard work of our winegrowers, the English wine industry is going from strength to strength, with production more than doubling in the last five years.”