HAMPSHIRE  wine producer Hambledon Vineyard has bought a neighbouring winery estate for an undisclosed sum.

Hambledon will take over Meonhill’s 46 acres on Winchester Hill in the South Downs.

In addition to taking over the vineyards of Meonhill, Hambledon will acquire certain bulk reserve wine stocks to extend its range of reserve wines for the Hambledon sparkling wines. The bottled stock of Meonhill sur lattes is being privately acquired in a separate transaction by Ian Kellett, managing director of Hambledon.

Didier Pierson, joint founding shareholder from Meonhill will join the Hambledon Vineyard team as a consultant.

Hervé Jestin, former Chef de Caves of Duval Leroy, shall continue to lead the Hambledon winemaking team, and the new vineyards will come under the management of Peter Crabtree, Hambledon’s experienced vineyard manager.

Ian Kellet said: “I am delighted with this acquisition, this expansion is consistent with Hambledon Vineyard’s strategy of expanding its sparkling wine vineyards, locally in Hampshire, in order to develop one of the leading English sparkling wine brands.

“The geology is Upper Cretaceous chalk, consistent with Hambledon’s determination to only grow the three classic Champagne varieties on chalk-based soils and we are confident that our Champagne trained winemaking team will continue to get the best from our grapes. It is a very exciting time for us and we are very much looking forward to delivering an award-winning English sparkling wine.”

Hambledon Vineyard is set to launch their first commercial sparkling wine next month, Hambledon Classic Cuvee NV. The official launch will take place in London on May 6.

Approximately 11 acres are currently under vine and planted on the Champagne trellising system at Meonhill, the only English vineyard to currently use this system, offering twice the density of UK standard plantings. All the planted vines are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and Hambledon plans to run trials over the next 3 years to observe the differences between identical clone and rootstock combinations on the Meonhill trellising system and the trellising systems Hambledon already use.

Vineyards are spreading across Hampshire with new vineyards created at Mattingley, Bramdean and Cheriton near Alresford.

Farmland at Winnall Down, near Winchester, is for sale with a new vineyard one potential use.