Foster design for UK’s biggest wine project
Famous architect firm Foster and Partners has designed a winery for what will become the UK’s biggest single wine producer when its plantings mature.
The design is for Vineyard Farms, the English winemaking business backed by Mark Dixon of Château Berne in Provence, who made his fortune from serviced office firm Regus, and who has stated his intention to become the largest wine producer in the UK.
The winery will be located near the village of Cuxton in Gravesham, Kent, where around 160 hectares of vines are being planted by Dixon on former organic farmland, making it the largest single wine estate in the UK.
The project has been called the Kentish Wine Vault, and last month went to public consultation, with a formal planning submission set to take place later this year.
Dixon plans to produce between 4 and 5m bottles of wine annually, surpassing the UK’s biggest producer, Nyetimber, which makes around 2m bottles of sparkling wine each year – a figure that currently represents around 20% of the total 10m bottle sparkling wine output of the entire industry.
Dixon already has a productive wine business in the UK, with Sedlescombe – the newly enlarged biodynamic producer in East Sussex – although he has put his other wine estate, Kingscote Wine Estate in West Sussex, up for sale.
According to the Wine Spectator, Dixon plans to take his total vineyard holdings in the UK to around 400 hectares, with his daughter Holly running the new Kent-based project, while his other daughter, Sophie, takes care of Sedlescombe.
The Kent-based, Foster-designed scheme will not only contain a state-of-the art mainly subterranean winery, but also a visitor centre, shop and restaurant.
The proposed building will have a ‘green’ roof, while the production facility is expected to operate with a zero carbon footprint.
The Kentish Wine Vault, should it go ahead, will be Foster’s fourth winery, with the architect firm – most famous for The Gherkin and Wembley Arch in London – beginning its wine-related projects with a facility for Spanish producer Faustino in Ribera del Duero, which was completed in 2010.
Five years later it was responsible for the winery extension to Château Margaux in Bordeaux, while it’s nearing the completion of a winery for Saint-Émilion’s Le Dôme (pictured, bottom).
According to Kent Online, the county, which accounts for 70% of the UK’s wine production, is experiencing a winemaking boom, with the Meopham Valley Vineyard – located near to Dixon’s scheme – planning a £1.2m expansion for storing wine and visitor facilities.
Please scroll down to see further pictures of Foster’s design for the Kent facility, which is being managed by Gary Smith of MDCV UK, the business that takes care of Dixon’s wine distribution in the UK, including the output from his Provençal estates.