English vineyard gears up to fund £4m growth plan

18 February, 2011

Hampshire’s oldest commercial vineyard

Hambledon has recruited two new board members as it prepares for a £4 million share issue to fund ambitious growth plans.?Andrew Christie-Miller, a former grain trader who now has his own vineyard in Italy, has joined as chairman, and John Armit – founder of London fine wine merchant John Armit Wines and former managing director of Corney & Barrow – has also joined the set-up. Armit has relinquished day-to-day involvement in the company that carries his name.?Hambledon is raising the cash to fund a reconstruction of the winery, new plantings and provide working capital for production. The aim is to take production to 250,000 bottles a year.?Hambledon was opened in 1952 and was replanted with the classic Champagne grape varieties in 2005. It’s located on Champagne-like, south-facing chalk slopes with a similar climate to the French region.?The vineyard is looking to raise funds through an Enterprise Investment Scheme issue, which is designed to help smaller, higher-risk companies to raise finance by offering tax relief to investors buying new shares.?Managing director Ian Kellett said: “As crucial as raising the EIS equity is, the strength of the management team is key

to delivering an award-winning English sparkling wine.”?The company’s website says it intends to develop the Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones brand – named after the vineyard’s founder and the founding president of the English Vineyards Association – as “our own Dom Perignon for the UK sparkling wine industry”.?Applications close on March 30 for Hambledon’s EIS scheme.

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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