England’s Oldest Commercial Vineyard Raises Capital on CrowdBnk

Hambledon VineyardsEngland’s oldest commercial vineyard, planted in 1952, is using a new form of finance to raise capital.  Hambledon Vineyard, located in Hampshire South Downs, has listed a mini-bond offer on CrowdBnk seeking £2.75 million in new funding.  The “English Fizz Mini Bond” is a 5 year term security paying an 8% annual return.  Investors also may benefit from an annual perk of a half a case of Hambledon Classic Cuveé each year. Those who subscribe at higher levels may receive additional perks as part of the Mini Bond investment. Investors are required to commit a minimum of £10,000.

Hambledon Sparkling WineWhile England usually stands in the shadows of its neighbor across the Channel, Hambledon notes their vineyard is well situated to compete with the likes of the Champagne vintners.  Hambledon claims similar chalk soil and weather conditions to the the Champagne region which is approximately 105 miles to the South East.

The crowdfunding campaign page shares that “unlike the best still wines, high quality sparkling wine needs to be grown in a cool/marginal climate to achieve the necessary high levels of acidity. This acidity is why Champagne’s quality is generally much higher than Prosecco or Cava. Hambledon is only 105 miles North of Champagne, and the company believes its ‘Upper Cretaceous chalk’ terrain is geologically a match for Champagne chalk. This combination of climate and terrain provides ideal growing conditions for producing the finest quality sparkling wines”.

Hambledon is expected to produce around 100,000 bottles this year from the 2014 harvest. But this number may double next year “if normal weather conditions prevail”. Hambledon wants to ramp up to one million bottles per year. The new funding will provide needed capital for the expansion that sees a prime opportunity in the the UK – a market that is said to have grown by 28% since 2009. Apparently the UK is the worlds largest Champagne export market with per capital consumption about 10 times that of the USA.

Ian Kellett, who bought the Hambledon Vineyard in 1999, was quoted on the campaign;Ian Kellett

“Our aim is simple; selling Englishness to the world in the form of an eventual one million bottles per annum of highest quality English fizz, from England’s oldest commercial vineyard and the ‘birthplace’ of cricket. We believe that Hambledon has the terroir, the potential for brand leadership, and the team to produce the finest brand of English sparkling wine and to become world renowned.”

“Crowdfunding our mini bond is important to us so that we might share our journey with as many people as we can…”

As of today the Mini-Bond issue is almost 50% subscribed.  Once the bond matures, holders will have the option of purchase equity in the company at a price of £2.20 per share.  The company expects this to be a discount to market prices 5 years hence.

Hambledon TeamBeverages, specifically wine and beer, have been a fairly popular crowdfunding category.  Consumer affinity with a specific product is a good marriage for successful companies in need of capital for expansion. Combining a financial return alongside product perks is a strategy that has gained traction in the crowdfunding space.

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