Autumn Update from Mark Harvey

Harvest is a particularly exciting time of year for us all here at Chapel Down – the culmination of another growing season out in the vineyards and a first indication from the winery of the scale and the quality of the wines to come. 2019 has been another bumper year, not quite at the levels of the extraordinary yields of 2018 but not far off. And the quality is high too, with the sugars and acids at the targeted levels across the sites. There’s been a lot of rain which has challenged the picking schedule and the logistics into the winery but kudos to our Winemaker, Josh and Head of Viticulture, Richard and their teams for bringing it all in. Great work!

The anticipation for the wines to come is only heightened by the extraordinary success of the most recent releases. Our single vineyard Kit’s Coty continues to lead the way with a sweep of ‘Best In Show’s’ from Decanter, the IWC and Wines GB. And our core range has been well awarded too with a number of gold medals across both sparkling and still wines. Too many to list out here and I’ll save Josh and Richard’s blushes by attempting to do so. Suffice to say an extraordinary achievement which continues to set the bar very high for our young industry.

It is worth calling out another gem that has been released from the winery this year: Sparkling Bacchus 2018. Not traditional method, but carbonated and a young, fun wine which has been well received by trade and consumers alike as a homegrown, branded alternative to Prosecco. Waitrose and now Majestic have listed this nationally and more and more pubs, restaurants and bars are adding the wine to their menus and often by the glass. The opportunity here is exciting. Our ‘centre of gravity’ will always be traditional method sparkling – we continue to plant up a further 400 acres of champagne varietals on the North Downs – but this offers a compelling and delicious proposition at the price tier below.

Progress on Spirits has been really promising too. Our Bacchus Gin and Chardonnay Vodka both won Gold recently at the 2019 Spirits Masters in the Super Premium Categories. In a crowded space the proposition is landing well. As well as the quality of the spirits people love the design of the decanter-like bottle. The products are available at Majestic and now at Waitrose and an ever-increasing number of bars and pubs across the country.

Our London home, the Chapel Down Gin Works in King’s Cross, continues to thrive and we now offer a range of experiences including the ‘Gin Works Experience’ the ultimate gin-lovers experience offering participants the chance to come and blend their own unique Gin to then take home in a bespoke bottle. A great one to then share – or not! – with family and friends during the festive season. Do come and visit us – we serve our full range of wines and beers as well and spirits cocktails. Helga – our beautiful still housed behind the ground floor bar – and the team will provide a warm welcome!

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Mark Harvey, MD Wine & Spirits