The Sussex winemaker, located near Ditchling Common, said it wanted to boost the number of bottles of wine it produced annually from 300,000 to 500,000 within the next five years.
The company currently employs 14 people and said its plans would also entail increasing its workforce by 10%. Export markets would be a big sales target and the firm has just completed its first shipment to Uganda, it said, adding that it anticipated high demand from China.
Ridgeview currently exports about 20% of all the wine it produces to about 20 countries. It recently also started supplying Sweden. Its major export markets include the US, Holland and Finland.
Increase cellar space
Part of the investment would be used to increase cellar storage space, it said. It also aimed to refurbish its tasting room, which it could use to strengthen its marketing to new and existing customers, it said. It hopes to open the facility at the beginning of September.
“We’ll be investing in our vineyards and contract growers,” sales and marketing manager Mardi Roberts told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Any profit generated by Ridgeview was ploughed back into the business, she said. In addition, the firm’s growth had been supported by grants via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the South East England Development Agency, she added.
“That was for a variety of equipment and the extension of our winery,” said Roberts. “The latest grant for our bottling line was from Coast to Capital [Local Enterprise Partnership]. Grants are available to the right businesses, but you have got to put the time in for this.”
UK retailers had also shown faith in the business, she said. “Waitrose has planted its own vineyard at Leckford [Hampshire]. We were awarded the contract to make wine for them. The first wine went on shelves two to three months ago.”
Ridgeview makes a range of sparkling wines under labels such as Bloomsbury, Cavendish and Fitzrovia.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson, who visited Ridgeview last week during English Wine Week, urged producers to unite behind a common label, which could be used to promote and protect English wine.