Hambledon Vineyard plc, which is undergoing an innovative fundraising via an EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme), is gearing up for its 250,000 bottles per annum production of top English sparkling wine with the appointment of two leading independent directors.
John Armit and Andrew Christie-Miller join the board in preparation for the fundraising close of 30 March, when up to £4 million will be deployed to transform England’s oldest commercial vineyard into a large-scale sparkling wine business.
Christie-Miller assumes the role of Hambledon chairman. Armit has spent his entire career in the UK wine industry establishing the Petrus brand. Prior to establishing John Armit Wines, he was MD of the Corney & Barrow chain of wine bars.
Hambledon Vineyard MD Ian Kellett said: “I am delighted to be working alongside such dedicated and experienced professionals. As crucial as raising the EIS equity is, the strength of this management team is key to delivering an award-winning English sparkling wine.”
Replanted in 2005 with the same grapes used in Champagne production and sited at the birthplace of cricket, the vineyard is located on south-facing chalk slopes and boasts a climate almost identical to the Champagne region. The first harvest was successfully taken in 2008.
Britain’s sparkling wine consumption is 100m bottles per annum, of which about a third are French.
Investors have until 30 March to grab a slice of the Income Tax relief available under the EIS scheme and to back the management team in their business expansion.