About the wine maker
The geography and soils around Tenterden in Kent, where Chapel Down is based, are almost identical to the Champagne region. The chalk seam provides excellent, warm well drained soils, important when growing grapes in cool-climate vineyards. The team believe that the North Downs of Kent and large areas of the South Downs of Sussex, along with the chalk downlands of Hampshire, have some of the finest potential terroirs for grape growing to make world class sparkling wine by the Traditional Method (see our Chapel Down range in the Sparkling Wine section) as well as cool-climate aromatic and complex still wines similar to those produced in the Loire Valley and New Zealand. Chapel Down’s original eight hectare vineyard was established in 1977. Regular successes with classic sparkling wines and benchmark Bacchus have driven steady growth and the company now has a significant vineyard on a warm, chalky North Downs site as well as a network of motivated vine-growing partners in Kent, Essex and Sussex. Sparkling wine is the style that ‘just works’ in England and keeps getting better as they improve vineyard management and winemaking techniques.
England lies at the extremity of viticultural viability; as such it’s an exciting new region with real challenges and rewards. The right vineyard sites are absolutely key; there is enormous potential to explore, discover and develop. So far Chapel Down has managed to find sites that deliver wines with excellent delicacy and finesse as well as beautiful clarity and purity of fruit character.
Winemaker Andrew Parley, who has 15 years' experience making wine around the world, is adamant that there are no secrets to making great wines, ‘just good grapes and good people’. He is very excited about what is being achieved at Chapel Down as he says, ‘with such a good team imbued with insight, vision, ambition, confidence and ability to continuously improve grape and wine quality and push styles in bold new directions, the future looks bright.’