The Hampshire producer, which claims to be England’s oldest commercial vineyard and the village is the ‘birthplace’ of cricket, says it has gone into ‘overfunding’.
Formerly, owner Ian Kellett was a leading investment analyst and managing director at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson bank. He bought Hambledon Vineyard in 1999 because of its chalk terroir on south east-facing slopes and his belief that it has the best brand story of any English wine business. Also the fact that Hambledon village is known as the ‘Cradle of Cricket’ (Lord’s predecessor in the sport and the place where the rules of the present game were first formalised in 1770) and the scope to develop Hambledon into the leading English wine brand.
On Hampshire’s South Downs and first planted in 1952, the company believes the vineyard is well placed to compete with the Champagne growers of France - with similar chalk soil and similar climatic conditions.
The UK is the world’s largest champagne export market- per capita consumption is 10 times that of the US. Since 2009, the UK market for sparkling wines has grown by 28% and last year reached 123.3 million bottles, gaining market share at the expense of still wines.
Within this growing market for sparkling wines, champagne has been losing market share - between 2007 and 2014 declining from 39.1 to 32.6 million bottles, says the company. The market share of English sparkling wines is currently small at around 1.5%.
Hambledon Classic Cuvée has also just been awarded a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge 2015.
Kellett said: “We are delighted with how our fundraising has gone. Our aim is simple: selling Englishness to the world in the form of an eventual one million bottles per annum of the 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 category leadership, and the team to produce the finest brand of English sparkling wine recognised across the world.”
Hambledon’s wine making team is led by Hervé Jestin, an experienced former chef de caves at Champagne producer Duval Leroy. Hambledon Vineyard says it has a 60-year relationship with Pol Roger and has entered into a mutually exclusive agreement with the wholesale agency division of Berry Brothers & Rudd - Fields Morris & Verdin - to develop sales to UK trade customers.
The company says proceeds of the retail bond issue, which could overfund to £3.5 million, will help Hambledon expand its output and build up stocks to enable it to achieve an initial sales target of 200,000 bottles a year within five years, with production far exceeding that amount.
Kellett added: “Crowdfunding our mini bond been really important to us so that we might share our journey with as many people as we can. With a minimum investment of £1,600, we wanted to work with a partner who understood our ambition and CrowdBnk, with its strong mix of investor types, was the perfect fit.’
CrowdBnk CEO Ayan Mitra said: “The English Fizz Mini Bond was our first mini bond and we are delighted to have hosted such a strong brand and product as Hambledon. The fact that the mini bond is both secured and convertible underlines our continued ability to deliver offerings that we believe our investors want.”
There is still the chance to take advantage of the Hambledon fizz mini bond as they will be accepting up to £750,000 more to take the total up to a maximum of £3.5 million.
Hambledon says it is also offering the opportunity of Hambledon Classic Cuvée only Mini Bonds called “Fizz Rewards.” This gives investors a number of bottles of Classic Cuvée every year during the investment term. Minimum investment: £1,600 and £3,200 depending on level of wine rewards.
CrowdBnk describes itself as an equity and debt crowdfunding platform offering investors the opportunity to invest in rigorously vetted early-stage and established businesses.