Chapel Down Vineyards

Chapel Down is England’s leading wine producer with an award-winning range of sparkling and still wines. Based in Kent they produce wines of the highest quality. Their winery estate is open to the public for guided tours and experiences.

Their wines are produced from grapes grown in the South East of England. They own some of the finest vineyards in England, primarily situated on the North Downs of Kent with a terroir very similar to that of Champagne. Our Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Bacchus vines are grown on south facing chalk soils and benefit from a warm, maritime climate.

They are one of the UK government’s Top 50 Food & Drink producers and are the first English winery to ever feature in the London Stock Exchange’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’. Thye sell in some of the best venues in the world as well as leading supermarkets.

They support other great English institutions too, including England Cricket, The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, The London Symphony Orchestra, Ascot Racecourse, The Royal Opera House, The Donmar Warehouse and The Turner Contemporary.

The Challenge

After various meetings with Chapel Down post-Brexit where the vineyard was struggling to find the right staff and numbers they required for a successful harvest, their concern was that they had never had a predominantly local workforce and to that end was nervous about whether it would work. Would they get the numbers of people they needed that would work in all weathers at speed and would they be dependable and achieve the desired outcome as harvest is such a short window of opportunity and not picking on time can be costly and ruin a whole years yield. They knew there was a problem but were hesitant to let go of their Eastern European suppliers for an unknown quantity.

What we did

We trialed supporting Chapel Down with their harvest back in 2019 with small numbers at first 15-20 pickers .

We successfully created a harvest team that worked incredibly well during the 2019 harvest every member of the team was met and briefed, we dealt with all of their paperwork for GLAA and PAYE purposes and took lots of time developing a social media campaign and sourcing really good dependable teams.

One of our team was on site whenever needed and we gave them a 24/7 helpline should the Chapel Down team need us

The Results

This initial trial went so well its gone from strength to strength.

We now support Chapel Down with their temporary and permanent recruitment across all of their sites.

During the 2022 harvest season we covered 2 main sites of chapel down and had approx. 150 staff working their harvest from tractor drivers, supervisors to harvest pickers. Our client was very happy that the harvest had come to a close and finished on time and they are ready to manage a new way of working ongoing. We also provide bottling staff, pruners and production staff in other areas of the company at various imes of year.

Their demand for harvest workers has grown year upon year, having been encouraged by the initial start in 2019 and on their business expanding at a rapid rate.

They are now in an enviable position where we have many people wanting to go back and return to Chapel Down to work their harvest year on year.

Working the harvest with us at Chapel Down is 2-3 weeks of hard graft and A LOT of walking on ‘at times’ very uneven terrain, it’s a fabulous experience and a great way to meet new people from local communities, make friends, support your local vineyard and you’ll get to work in the most beautiful surroundings and soak up all the nature that engulfs you.

This role is not for the faint hearted as it does involve working in all weather conditions, however it is very rewarding and comes with a number of exclusive benefits, such as a celebratory harvest lunch at Chapel Down’s prestigious tasting rooms and staff discount on all retail products on the Chapel Down website and in there onsite retail outlet. We have many people returning to work the harvests each year as although its very hard work, its also a lot of fun!

We like to hope we have a great relationship with the team at Chapel down based on trust, transparency, hard work and honesty across all parties and are hugely honored and grateful to be working so closely with them.