Kent wine maker: Chapel Down
PUBLISHED: 16:29 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 08 October 2018
We speak to Chapel Down’s Mark Harvey about the winery’s place as one of Kent’s top wine producers
How did you get started in the industry?
Before joining Chapel Down and the world of English Wine, I worked at Moet Hennessy for 12 years marketing and selling a variety of spirits and wines including Champagne. The opportunity to move into this dynamic, young industry with such huge potential was too tempting.
Describe a typical day
A hackneyed response maybe, but every day is different! As Managing Director at Chapel Down I am involved in all aspects of the business from production through to sales and I love the variety of the day-to-day. I have worked with some pretty cool brands in my career but I can genuinely say I’ve never felt more energised than I do today.
The most hands-on element of your job?
We’re a relatively small but growing company of 60 people currently and we have a shared ethos of mucking in and helping each other out as a team. At the numerous events we put on – Curious Arts Festival, The Boat Race, Ascot – we all take turns serving behind the bar as an example. We all tend to get stuck in.
Your proudest achievement to date?
I’m immensely proud of what we’re achieving together as a young industry right now. A wine-growing region is only born once and I feel we’re all privileged to be where we are right at this moment in time. The potential is enormous and the excitement is palpable.
Favourite wine and food pairing?
Jamon Iberico and Chapel Down Three Graces 2011. The cellarmaster at Dom Perignon, Richard Geoffroy, introduced me to this pairing originally with his vintage 1996 and it blew me away. These days I prefer Three Graces hands down!
Describe yourself in three words
Curious, relentless, French!
What makes Kent unique?
Kent has the ideal growing conditions for making high-quality sparkling wine with the optimal levels of warmth and rain. We’re excited by the quality of wines being produced in the county; the bar continues to be raised.
What is special about your brand?
Brand love. I’m constantly amazed by the quantity of positive, heartfelt feedback we get from people who come into contact with our business and brand. And that is all down to our team. We all share core values of being curious, relentless, fearless and humble.
What distinguishes your vineyard?
Chapel Down is the leading player within English Wine so we operate now at a scale that differs from the others in the partnership. But a real strength of the collective lies in the variety of producers – both in personality and size. We’re all learning from each other and it’s fun!
What do you envisage for English wines in the next five years?
The most significant export opportunity for English Sparkling Wines is the USA and great progress has been made by the leading producers over the last 18 months. While relatively low volumes today, this should scale up significantly over the next five years.