Knight Frank’s viticulture team has advised Chapel Down, the largest wine producer in England, on a new long-term leasehold agreement for 117 plantable acres in Kent. The land at Boughton Corner Farm, in Bilting, near Canterbury, will be used by Chapel Down for planting future vineyards.
The average size of a vineyard in the UK is only 10 acres according to Knight Frank, making the scale of the site amongst the largest vineyards in the English wine sector. When vines are planted in the spring next year it will take Chapel Down’s total planted vineyards to 1,023 acres.
Knight Frank says the land at Boughton Corner Farm is perfectly suited for growing vines, with free draining loamy soil overlying chalk, a south easterly slope with a maximum elevation of 85m and a growing season temperature of 14.2 degree C – characteristics which make it ideal for growing grape varieties to produce Champagne method sparkling wine.
The off-market search was achieved using Knight Frank’s bespoke viticulture mapping tool. By combining various climatic and physical landscape datasets, Knight Frank has developed an in house methodology to evaluate parcels of land on their suitability for vines. When paired with ownership information, it enables the firm and its clients to make expedited and informed decisions as to a site’s viability. The data Knight Frank draws on when evaluating sites includes: soil type, growing season temperature and precipitation, slope and aspect, and elevation.
Ed Mansel Lewis, Head of Viticulture at Knight Frank, said: “This long leasehold agreement represents further confidence in the bourgeoning English wine sector. Boughton Corner is a superb site for growing sparkling wine grape varieties and, once planted, will take Chapel Down’s total plantings to over 1,000 acres. It is exciting to see the leading English wine brand looking to increase its land holding so significantly.
“We continue to experience high levels of interest from both existing domestic English wine producers and international brands looking to enter the UK wine market. It is a very exciting time for the sector.
“When the characteristics of the land are right, leasing or selling sites for wine production has become a serious and viable option for rural landowners. However, many are still unaware that their land is potentially suitable.”
Josh Donaghay Spire, Operations Director and Head Winemaker at Chapel Down, said: “We are delighted to be working with Knight Frank on an exclusive land agency partnership. The lease of this additional prime site for vineyard planting on the Kent Downs is a key part of the Chapel Down growth strategy. It continues our exploration of the Kent Downs terroir and we look forward to sharing the fruits of this vineyard with our customers.”