Interview With The CEO Of Chapel Down
27th October 2023
There is no denying that English Sparkling Wine is on the rise, becoming an undeniable contender to Champagne, and although it still has some way to go in convincing the rest of the world, to the English, it’s becoming a fan favourite and a go-to Glass of Bubbly, its quality is improving with each year and thanks to innovators and those willing to follow their dreams, the choice of English Sparkling Wine is expanding.
In this article we speak with Andrew Carter, the CEO of Chapel Down, an English Winery located in the heart of the Garden of England, in Kent, let’s discover a little about his time in the Wine Industry.
Tell Us About Yourself
“Enjoying the second half of life, married to Kay with three children that have all just about left the nest, I became CEO of Chapel Down in September 2021.
An Exeter graduate in Economics & Agricultural Economics, I started working life at Reckitt & Colman in brand marketing on the likes of Lemsip, Dettol & Harpic! Moved to Bulmers in 1995 and have enjoyed a career spanning over 25 years in the Global Drinks industry. Have worked in wine, beer and spirits and held senior leadership roles at some of the some of the world’s best known drinks companies working on premium drinks brands such as Penfolds, Bombay Sapphire, Bacardi, Grey Goose & San Miguel across the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia & Global Travel Retail. Prior to joining Chapel Down, I worked as Managing Director at Chase Distillery, before leading the sale of the company to Diageo.
The CV describes me as ‘passionate, results-driven commercial leader with a strong track record of delivering transformational business performance, building world-class premium drinks brands and developing & leading high-performance teams’, but in essence, I work hard & play hard and love people & brands!
Outside of work, I love my cricket, horse racing & rugby, enjoy long walks with the dog and usually a pub and curry weaved in somewhere along the way!”
How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?
“Having worked in beer and spirits, I was fortunate to complete the trinity, when offered the opportunity to be European Managing director of Treasury Wine Estates in 2012, when the business was demerging from Foster Brewing. That was a tremendously exciting period as we created a new company of ‘Vintrepreneurs’ selling some of the most fabulous Australian wine brands such as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Lindemann’s and American giants like Beringer and Stag’s Leap. I have always been from a farming background and the agricultural element of growing vines, working in balance with the environment alongside all of the commercial & brand- build challenges is fascinating!”
How Rewarding And Challenging Is Working As The CEO Of Chapel Down?
“We are England’s largest winemaker and publicly listed business, leading the development of a new world wine region, so with this comes a whole variety of challenges across the vineyards, production, commercial, branding, teams, culture et al,. So yes very varied, very full on, but tremendously exciting! Whatsmore this is the fastest growing sector in UK agriculture and fastest growing Sparkling wine category, so this isn’t the time to stand still! We recently took our total acreage to over 1,000 acres and each time you plant an acre of vines, it will be 7 years before we are drinking that sparkling wine, so the forward planning time horizons and capital cycle are long, but the rewards are very high. This is a story that continually needs telling & reinforcing, this is a once in lifetime generation change!”
How Do You See The Future Of English Sparkling Wine?
“We are really in our infancy, the industry in reality is not much more than 30 years old. The pioneers that went before did an incredible job, but now with the right terroir, and the right climatic growing conditions producing world class award-winning wines, we have to build on the foundations and create a fully fledged profitable UK Wine industry. Chapel Down are now making sustainable profits, but the industry is a long way from this point. There will be further industry consolidation and more international entrants given the global focus on the English wine region and notably Kent. Aligning on the right legislative frameworks around PDO’s, distinguishing on production methods and further premiumising the UK wine offering will be key to sustainable long term growth. Learning from the Champagne region will be key they have been doing a pretty good job for over 300 years!”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“At my daughter’s wedding! Any Dad who gets a chance to lead his princess up the aisle and then lead the toasting of the happy couple amongst family & friends with a glass of Chapel Down Brut is just an amazing memory!
(That said drinking a glass at Lords on the opening day of our England & Wales cricket board sponsorship was up there too!)”
Thank you Andrew, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Andrew Carter. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.