Margaux hires Foster to revamp cellars

Château Margaux has hired British architect Sir Norman Foster to redesign its cellars and create new facilities for visitors.

The current barrel room at Margaux. Photo credit: Mike Coode

The new design is said to include a past vintage library and will allow red and white wines to be vinified in the same cellars for the first time since the 1970s.

As well as the underground work, some of the outlying buildings will be turned into reception centres and tasting rooms, with the cooperage moving back to its original 19th century site across the courtyard.

It is said that work will begin in the spring next year, although the project has been in development for a good 18 months.

Margaux’s position as a national monument and listed building has slowed the process down but final planning permission was granted this September.

Foster is a world-renowned architect and was responsible for the renovation of the Berlin Reichstag, the main court at the British Museum, the Hearst Tower in New York and HSBC’s headquarters in Hong Kong, alongside many other projects around the world including, airports, metro stations, skyscrapers, stadiums and bridges.

This is not the first time Foster has dabbled in wineries however. In 2010 Bodegas Portia in Ribera del Duero opened its Foster-designed doors for he first time.

Foster said of the building: “Bodegas Portia is our first winery, so we had no preconceptions about how it should work. It was an opportunity to start from first principles – to examine the different stages of wine production and to try to create the ideal conditions for them to unfold.

The barrel room at Bodegas Portia

“The wine was the starting point, as well as the beautiful setting in Ribera del Duero. Using materials that draw on the region’s winemaking traditions, with public spaces open to the landscape, which will enhance the visitor experience.”

He joins a line of other famous architects or “starchitects” that have helped design wineries, notably Frank Gehry’s design for Marqués de Riscal and Santiago Calatrava’s Ysios, also in Rioja.

Foster will be helped by Bordeaux architect Guy Tropres.

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