Chapel Down Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest wine producer, said prospects for this year’s harvest are looking good as grapes benefit from a growing season that has been hotter than usual.
“We’ve had a good summer so far,” Sales and Marketing Director Guy Tresnan said in an interview Aug. 15. “A lot can happen, but at the moment we’re happy.”
Chapel Down, based in Tenterden, Kent, southeast England, grows white chardonnay, pinot blanc and Bacchus grapes, along with red pinot noir. Its still whites, roses and reds along with sparkling wines retail for about 10 pounds ($16.60) to 27 pounds a bottle, according to its website.
The winery’s harvest last year was the “biggest ever” after crops in 2011 and 2012 were hurt by bad weather, Chief Executive Officer Frazer Thompson said in a phone interview yesterday. “This year we’re expecting to exceed that.”
Sales rose 4 percent in 2013 to a record 5.03 million pounds ($8.3 million). While this year shows promise, Chapel Down recognizes that the British weather still has time for an unwelcome surprise.
“If it gets cold, if it gets wet, suddenly you find the ripening isn’t happening as you’d like,” Tresnan said. “The more rain you get, the more dilution there is in the grapes.”
There are more than 400 vineyards in the U.K., covering more than 3,500 acres (1,416 hectares), producing both still and sparkling wines, according to the English Wine Producers’ website.
Chapel Down says it has 18 acres planted to vines in production at its home vineyard on a 68 acre site in Tenterden, 95 acres planted further north on a 115 acre site near Aylesford, and further vines under contract elsewhere across the southeast.
Temperatures in the U.K. exceeded the 30-year average for eight straight months through July, with last month equaling the eighth-warmest July since 1910, according to Met Office data. While the U.K. overall had 82 percent of average rainfall last month, that reflected drier weather in the southwest and wetter conditions in parts of eastern England, the data showed.