With a guide price of £6.75m, the 61.51-hectare Kingscote English wine estate in West Sussex represents a relatively expensive route into the UK wine community.
‘We are not asking for small money,’ said Chris Spofforth, head of Savills’ rural agency for the south-east of England.
But, he said the agency was getting ‘broad interest’ from the UK and overseas and that more prospective buyers have been considering the UK wine industry in general in 2020.
‘Last year there weren’t that many buyers around but we’ve seen a significant upturn in buyer interest this year, and we’ve had a bit more to offer,’ he told Decanter.com.
Kingscote, lying on the Sussex Weald south of London, is an example of an English wine estate that is ready to go.
It has a commercial winery and around 24ha of vineyard, planted to the well-known trio of ‘Champagne’ grapes – Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – plus Bacchus, Pinot Blanc and Regent.
There is also a five-bedroom, Grade II listed farmhouse with views across the local landscape, as well as an orchard, a holiday cottage, a large barn capable of hosting wedding parties and fishing lakes, according to Savills.
The current owner has more than doubled the vineyard area since arriving in 2017, but was understood to want to prioritise vineyards elsewhere.
Businessman Mark Dixon is the current majority owner of the estate, according to UK Companies House.
Profiling UK vineyard buyers
Many UK wine producers large and small have enjoyed a boom period in the last decade.
While trade body WineGB said recently that some producers had delayed investment due to economic uncertainty related to the coronavirus crisis, leading player Nyetimber said this week that it plans to double annual production to 2m bottles by 2030.
Its owner, Eric Hereema, also forecast the arrival of more Champagne houses.
‘Several Champagne houses have indeed already established their sparkling wine production in England, and I expect that we have only seen the early beginnings of that so far,’ said Hereema, speaking on the eve of ‘English wine week’.
Taittinger started the trend in 2015 by joining a UK consortium to buy land in Kent.
Spofforth said that Savills has noticed more prospective buyers searching for a new lifestyle.
This includes wealthy investors from London and expats seeking to return to the UK, such as from Hong Kong. ‘I wouldn’t say it’s an exodus, but it’s a significant trend,’ he said.
Buyers can be hobbyists, who merely wish to see the wine business ‘wash its face’, or investors seeking a more hands-on role in the development of the UK wine industry, he said.
What does a UK vineyard cost?
‘Prices for bare vineyard land are very variable,’ said Stephen Skelton MW, a leading viticultural consultant who has analysed land prices for the forthcoming second edition of Wine Growing in Great Britain.
‘Really top quality land in the right areas with good soils (chalk if possible), and south-facing with roadside access, will sell for £20,000-plus per acre [£50,000 per hectare] and maybe even more, depending on the amount of land,’ Skelton said.
For comparison, existing vineyards in French appellation zones cost €148,000 per hectare on average in 2019.
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Source: Chris Mercer