HELLINGLY, EAST SUSSEX
Project: New winery building, offices and tasting room
Clients: Off the Line Vineyard
Responsibilities on project: Architect up to and including main contract tender stage
Project completion: Autumn 2017
Off the Line Vineyard approached BBM in 2014 to assist them with the establishment of a winery building to augment their burgeoning vineyard project which at the time was preparing to have its first vines planted on its 12.8 hectare site. The land is afforded perfect south facing slopes beside the former Cuckoo Railway line (which was the inspiration behind the vineyard’s name). Formally a farm with an extensive though dilapidated stables, the starting brief was to assess if this building could be cost effectively converted or if a purpose-built facility was the better overall option. It was quickly established that the existing steel frame structure was not capable of receiving an insulated fabric without major strengthening and alteration work thus the new build option was pursued. The new building was completed in the fall of 2017.
Off the Line Vineyard’s ethos in how they have set up the vineyard, how they have chosen the grape varieties and in the wine making techniques they have employed have been very much focused on working with the environment and by being responsible and aware of their impact on ecosystems and resources. It was important for the clients to appoint an architect with an overt ecological awareness and previous experience of working on vineyard projects and BBM fitted these requirements.
The initial brief was developed through a number of iterations but the final design included the main winery space for the wine production work, a spacious bottle store, laboratory, store rooms, office, staff room, shower and toilets as well as a multi-purpose ‘front of house’ tasting and presentation room. BBM worked closely with the clients and viticultural specialists Bevtech, to refine the early stage design work into a detailed tender package. The project was eventually split into a frame and shell contract and a fit-out out contract. The main build element came in at around £400K + VAT.
The project had to overcome many technical obstacles, not least the proper cleansing and disposal of the winery process waste water which is otherwise considered toxic to natural water courses. A major component of the project then was the installation of a state of the art water treatment plant. Another core part of the brief was around minimising energy use within the building and where the wine making processes itself requires specific temperatures to be maintained, the amount of plant and the energy used to run this can be a considerable overhead to any winery business. According to the clients, even during the hot summer of 2018, temperatures inside the winery space never rose above the mid-20ºC. This was a big energy saving achievement as the wine store chillers were only lightly used and justified the careful attention to the insulative constructions which had been designed and specified.
Not all of the original BBM design was built-out. A shade creating south facing verandah was omitted but remains an aspiration to add at a later date. This will further improve the environmental performance of the building and provide a convivial covered space to improve the staff and visitor experience at the vineyard.