English wine group Chapel Down has leased another 73 hectares of 'prime vineyard land' in southern England to cater for expected consumer demand.

Chapel Down said it has secured long-term leases for two stretches of land in Kent; a 53ha site in Boxley and a 20ha site in Sandhurst. The company said it would plant vines there in the next few years and it means the firm now leases 132ha of vineyard land.

The deals come several months after Chapel Down raised around £4m via crowdfunding in order to fund expansion and upgrades to its winemaking facilities.

That move, and the firm’s subsequent decision to rent more land, is another reflection of the optimistic mood of much of England’s fledgling wine industry.

Chapel Down’s chief executive, Frazer Thompson said of the lease deal, ‘We believe this area of the North Downs offers the finest terroir in England for sparkling varieties and successive excellent crops from [our existing vineyard at] Kits Coty prove it.’

He added that the move would help Chapel Down to ‘satisfy the increasing demand for Chapel Down wines over the next 25 years’.

Global sales of English wine may get close to £100m in 2015, according to preliminary estimates from trade body English Wine Producers.

Most of the wine is currently sold within the UK, but several producers are increasingly turning their sights to export markets.

‘Exports are definitely going to be a significant area of growth over the next few years,’ said English Wine Producers’ marketing director, Julia Trustram Eve.

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Written by Chris Mercer