Taittinger invests in Kent indie

ArticlesComings & Goings

The Tudor Peacock is set to open in Chilham, Kent, next year, with Taittinger on board as an investor.

The business, which will focus entirely on wines from Kent, consists of a shop, tasting room and a small bar, all wrapped up in a beautiful Tudor property, in the middle of a picturesque village. So perhaps it was inevitable that a few locals had a grumble and enough objections were raised to result in an initial planning application being refused.

Almost a year on, hearts and minds have been won over and planning permission is imminent, as co-founder Nick Mogford explains.

“We put in a second application six months ago and we made sure that all our supporters actually penned their support to the council this time around,” he says.

Local residents were given the opportunity to come on board as shareholders, and jumped at the chance.

“We have made it a community project from the start,” says Mogford.

“The villager shares gave all the villagers an opportunity to buy into the business at whatever level they feel comfortable. So we have shareholders ranging from £300 or £400 going all the way up to more than £10,000.”

The business is 60% owned by the four co-founders who are Mogford, his wife Jeanine, Christian Magg and Greg Taylor.

“In all we have about 25 other investors in the business, the vast majority of whom actually come from the village, so it is a real community effort. It’s created a bit of a buzz around the village,” he adds.

Mogford also believes the initial objections, that were only few in number, were the result of a misunderstanding about the business model.

The Tudor Peacock will be a hybrid, but taking into account the e-commerce side of things, around 70% of the turnover will be retail. The bar area will be small, and local cheeses and Whitstable oysters will be available alongside wine by the glass. There will be a tasting room, designed to seat around 16 people.

“We’re going to be doing a series of generic Wine Garden of England tasting events where you can sample all of the wines from the seven vineyards in the one tasting,” Mogford says. “We’ve built relationships with all of those vineyards. We’ll be buying directly from them and we’ve agreed that they will come in on a rotational basis and run tasting events specific to their vineyard.”

The team is working with architects to ensure sufficient sound-proofing of the old building and, for now, they have withdrawn the application to have seating in the rear courtyard. They hope to utilise the area at the front, adjacent to the village square, where pubs already have seating.

“We were aware of the growing Kent wine business, particularly around the area of Chilham, where Domaine Evremond has planted vines,” says Mogford. “When one of the vacant properties on the village green came on the market we took a punt on it and bought what used to be the village gift shop. It’s a beautiful building, dating back to the 1300s.

“We have a significant investment from Taittinger. They are building a brand new winery just outside Chilham, which will be completed in the next year, but the winery won’t have a tasting room for guests and they were very keen to have somewhere they can access to bring clients down to entertain them.”

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