We are pleased to announce an update the 2023 harvest which has exceeded our expectations on quality, as well as being both a record-breaking yield and tonnage.
Favourable growing conditions at key periods of vine growth throughout 2023, combined with the skill of our world class viticulture and winemaking teams, have enabled the delivery of a harvest of exceptional grape quality and yield. Across our 750 fully productive acres under vine, we delivered a record 3,811 tonnes of grapes. This tonnage is 86% higher than 2022, and 75% higher than Chapel Down’s previous record posted in 2018.
The majority of grapes (c.80%) harvested were of varieties used for traditional method sparkling wine, in line with the Company’s strategy to focus on higher margin award-winning sparkling wines, which benefit from the cool maritime climate and chalk soils of the North Downs of Kent.
This year's harvest is expected to enable the production of approximately 3.4 million bottles of high-quality sparkling and still wines, underpinning our ambition to double the size of the business in the five years to 2026.
Chapel Down continues to expand its capacity in order to capitalise on the significant opportunity presented by the English Sparkling wine market, which grew by c.30% in 2022. We planted 118 acres this spring at Boarley on the Kent Downs, taking our total land under vine to 906 acres, and planning is well underway for 2024 plantings at Boughton Corner, which will take the Company’s total land under vine to 1,023 acres.
Andrew Carter, Chief Executive at Chapel Down Group, said: "Our industry has enjoyed remarkably favourable growing conditions this year, but converting this into a harvest of unprecedented scale and quality is thanks to the skill and commitment of our world class viticulture and winemaking teams. English wine is enjoying rapid growth as it establishes itself as the newest and most exciting global wine region, and Chapel Down continues to lead the way. With the majority (c.80%) of this year’s harvest yielding traditional method sparkling grape varieties, this crop will both underpin future volume growth and support our strategic focus on the higher margin sparkling wines in the Chapel Down range.”
Josh Donaghay-Spire, Head Winemaker and Operations Director, said: "Our confidence in this year’s harvest has been steadily building as we have worked with optimal conditions through the year, but this crop has exceeded our high expectations both for its size and quality. The ripeness levels in 2023 exceed those seen in the strong vintages of 2019 and 2021, and at this early stage in the winemaking process, this year’s wines are displaying a light and delicate character with good purity of fruit. As winemakers, we relish the opportunity to maximise the potential of this outstanding crop and in doing so we take another step towards establishing Chapel Down as the most celebrated English winemaker.”