Charles and Ruth Simpson of Simpsons Wine Estate have received a £143,154 grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme for the development of a state-of-the-art winery.
The grant will assist in the conversion of two barns, which are situated equidistant to their vineyards in Barham, Kent, into a modern winery and tasting room.
Work on the project will start imminently and the conversion will be completed in September 2016, in anticipation of their first harvest in October.
The duo are looking to capitalise on England’s thriving wine industry which, according to the latest research by UHY UK, has seen 170 new wine producers start-up in the last five years.
Co-owner of Simpsons Wine Estate, Ruth Simpson, said: “We have been awarded a grant of £143,154, which represents 37.5% of our projected total winery conversion and equipment spend.
“This is a very positive endorsement of our project and the impact that it will have in generating jobs and tourism opportunities in this area. It’s going to be a busy summer!”
Speaking on the booming industry, James Simmonds, a partner at UHW, said: “Many English vineyards do a lot more than produce wine, which can make them very profitable businesses.
“They are diversifying to offer tastings and tours, have restaurants, rooms for overnight guests and even be a venue for weddings and other events.
“The increasing success of English wine as well as the other business and hospitality opportunities that come with running a vineyard can be an attractive prospect for the wine enthusiast.”
The Simpsons will be calling on local expertise to bring the refurbishment of the buildings to fruition and drawing upon their 14 years of experience in the wine industry at Domaine Sainte Rose in France to source equipment from both European and British suppliers.