Topsham’s Dragons’ Den star about to launch project

A Topsham businessman is about to launch a project which received the financial backing of Duncan Bannatyne after he appeared on the Dragons’ Den television show.

A WINE expert who received the financial backing of entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne after pitching a business idea on television is not sure whether the deal will go through.

Geoff Bowen, from Topsham, secured an investment of �60,000 on Dragons’ Den last month for a scheme which gives people the opportunity to buy part of a vineyard.

The 46-year-old, who runs Pebblebed Vineyards, said despite shaking hands to a deal on the show, the fine details of the partnership with Mr Bannatyne was yet to be finalised.

Mr Bowen revealed he also needed to talk to the Scottish-born TV personality about how, since appearing on the programme, he has changed the details of the project which he hoped to launch next month.

He said the venture was less profit-oriented and now more about giving people a better chance to own part of a vineyard – a move which could result in Mr Bannatyne saying ‘I’m out.’

“Duncan is still on board it seems, and very interested. It is not, though, all signed and sealed,” he said.

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“These things don’t always happen like the show presents them. The den is more like an introduction to one another. From there you then decide on the nuts and bolts.”

Mr Bowen’s project allows people to buy part of a vineyard over a 10-year-period for �2000 – as opposed to a �9,500 sum that was presented to Mr Bannatyne.

Investors, in return, can assist in planting the vineyard, picking grapes, to celebrating the first bottles of wine. They also receive six bottles of sparking wine throughout the period and �50-worth of lunches every year.

“It is all about people being involved – it is not really a money-making project,” Mr Bowen said.

He added: “It is very different from the type of things that appear on Dragons’ Den where they are very much business-orientated and generating a profit for the investors.

“This is to do with people who may have always fancied having their own vineyard but not previously being able to do it because of time or cost.”

Mr Bowen said appearing on Dragons’ Den had raised the profile of his business.

“People regularly stop me to say they watched the show.

“We have been much busier in the cellar with people wanting to know a bit more about us and our vineyard tours have also been full.”