English wine producer Chapel Down Group plans to create one of the largest vineyards in the UK in an effort to satisfy anticipated demand over the next 25 years.
Chapel Down said that it has exchanged contracts on an agreement to lease 157 hectares (388 acres) of land at Boarley and Abbey Farm in Boxley, on the North Downs in Kent, southern England.
It plans to plant vineyards on the site between 2019 and 2021, taking the producer’s total vineyard area under long-term lease to nearly 319 hectares (788 acres).
When added to the company’s owned vineyards and grape supply contracts, the total area under vine for Chapel Down will exceed 950 acres.
Trade body Wine GB has said that it believes the UK industry, which includes vineyards across England and wales, could be producing 40 million bottles of sparkling wine per year by 2040.
The Boxley land is close to Chapel Down’s Kits Coty vineyard and other recently planted vineyard sites at Court Lodge Farm and Street Farm on the North Downs, said Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson.
He added: ‘We believe this area of the North Downs offers the finest terroir in England for sparkling varieties, and successive excellent crops and critical acclaim for wines from our Kits Coty vineyard prove it.
‘This will be the largest vineyard in England, with the potential to produce up to 1m bottles of sparkling wine per annum when mature.
‘The sites will be planted over the coming years to enable us to grow our business to satisfy the increasing demand for Chapel Down wines over the next 25 years.’
Winemakers in England are anticipating an excellent 2018 harvest after a summer heatwave created ‘near perfect’ conditions for a bumper – and high-quality – crop.
Thompson told Decanter.com earlier in the summer that ‘the quality of grapes on the vine is unprecedented.’