A popular Hampshire wedding venue and trading vineyard is set to expand and rebrand – and its new owners say the move will create jobs as well as help them to diversify the business.
Samantha and James Davies used a loan supported by Lloyds Bank to buy the site of Three Choirs Vineyards in Shedfield.
The couple have changed their name to Wickham Estate as part of the management buyout.
The 120-capacity venue hosted 55 weddings last year and already has 60 booked in for this year.
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Fifteen acres of the 40-acre site are planted to vine, and produce up to 30 tonnes of grapes every year – which equates to around 25,000 bottles of wine.
New owner Samantha had been with Three Choirs – which also has a vineyard in Gloucestershire that remains under the vendors’ ownership – for seven years, most recently as their general manager.
Along with her husband James, she now plans to develop the £500k turnover site to implement new revenue streams, including building further onsite accommodation such as shepherd huts and glamping, and exploring live music and cinema 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 Three Choirs’ five full-time staff and additional casual workers who share the same passion and energy for the business.
As part of their growth ambitions, they also plan to create more jobs.
Samantha said: “Our company is all about the fantastic team that works tirelessly to make sure we are always offering the best service to our customers, and we have a lot of fun doing it. Lloyds Bank has taken the time to really get to know our business, and has been by our side and shared our passion for this project from the start.
“I’ve loved working in this stunning setting for the last seven years, and James and I are so excited about all the different areas of it with potential to develop to bring it even more to life.”
Will Gage, relationship director at Lloyds Bank, added: “The team at Wickham Estate has a real family feel, with everyone pulling together to make it one of the leading wedding venues and vineyards in the south east.
“We’re delighted to have this opportunity to support the team with what is an incredibly exciting venture. Sam and James have such vision and enthusiasm to scale up the operation in the coming months and years, and we can’t wait to see what its future holds.”
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