A popular wedding venue and commercial vineyard in Hampshire is set to expand and rebrand – and its new owners say the move will create jobs and help them diversify the business.
Samantha and James Davies used a £1.1m loan backed by Lloyds Bank to buy the Three Choirs Vineyards site in Shedfield.
The couple changed their name to Wickham Estate as part of the management buyout.
The 120-seat venue hosted 55 weddings last year and already has 60 booked for this year.
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Fifteen acres of the 40-acre site are planted with vines and produce up to 30 tons of grapes each year, which equates to approximately 25,000 bottles of wine.
New owner Samantha had been with Three Choirs – which also has a vineyard in Gloucestershire that remains under Sellers ownership – for seven years, most recently as managing director.
Together with her husband James, she now plans to develop the £500,000-turnover site to implement new revenue streams, including building other on-site accommodation such as shepherd’s huts and glamping, and exploring concerts and film events.
The couple, who also own the Old Mill restaurant in Botley and employ their daughter Hannah’s company, Exquisite Catering, as Wickham Estate’s sole catering supplier, have retained the five full-time Three Choirs staff and others casual workers who share the same passion and energy for business.
As part of their growth ambitions, they also plan to create more jobs.
Samantha said: “Our company is a fantastic team who work tirelessly to ensure that we always provide the best service to our customers, and we have a lot of fun doing it. Lloyds Bank took the time to really get to know our business, and have been by our side and shared our passion for this project from the start.
“I have loved working in this beautiful setting for the past seven years, and James and I are so excited about all the different areas that have potential for development to bring it even more to life.”
Will Gage, Relationship Manager at Lloyds Bank, added: “The team at Wickham Estate has a real family atmosphere, with everyone coming together to make it one of the premier wedding venues and wineries in the South East. .
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to support the team in what is an incredibly exciting endeavour. Sam and James have such vision and enthusiasm for expanding the operation in the months and years to come, and we can’t wait to see what its future holds.
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