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Black Chalk secures £1.5m investment for new winery

Published:  03 September, 2019

English wine producer Black Chalk is poised to expand significantly following the business securing investment from two new backers alongside additional investment from the current directors and an EU fund to the combined tune of £1.5m.

The Hampshire-based winemaker, which launched last year, said the capital will be used to create the first Black Chalk winery and tasting room as well as expanding the team, with a number of positions being created.

The buildings will be leased on a long-term contract from Fullerton Estate – near Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley – currently the home of fellow Hampshire producer, Cottonworth.

The winery will be created from a barn on the Fullerton Estate, which is adjacent to an existing tasting room and shop, both of which will be “extensively remodelled” to allow the business to tap into the winery tourism market.

Having had a “very successful first year” Black Chalk, distributed by new UK agent Graft - formed from the merger of Red Squirrel and Knotted Vine, was now in a position to fulfil its original ambitions, said winemaker and co-founder, Jacob Leadley

“Until now one of the missing links has been the lack of our own facilities, which will enable us to grow to satisfy demand, although we will remain a boutique operation,” he said.

The overall vision was to establish a creative space – a melting pot for new ideas and innovation – which would allow collaborations with individuals wanting to make wine but lacking the facilities and expertise, he added.

As part of the expansion plans, the Black Chalk team will expand with three full-time positions to be created with start dates later this year, including assistant winemaker and sales & events manager.

Leadley will remain winemaker and also take on the CEO role; co-founder, Andrew Seden will become sales and events director, with Rebecca Leadley, Marilyn Seden and Bill Seden continuing as directors.

The investment comprises an agricultural grant from the EU Leader Programme, via the Loddon and Test Local Action Group – one of the final ones to be approved before Brexit is due to take effect – and private investment from two individuals: Justin Bache - a Plumpton graduate; and Kenya Matsumoto, a private investor, who owns Mayfair-based Japanese restaurant, Cubé.

The build is expected to commence in late 2019 with completion scheduled for the summer of 2020 in time for the first harvest.