Building work has begun at a winery on England's South Downs which aims to set a 'new global standard' for sustainable wine production.
‘High-tech and environmentally friendly’: Rathfinny
The winery at Rathfinny Estate in East Sussex will be the largest and most environmentally friendly in England, according to owner Mark Driver, who gave up a career as a hedge fund manager in the City to pursue the project.
The first 20 hectares of vines – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for sparkling wine and Riesling for still wine – were planted in March this year at the 240ha estate near Alfriston.
The £10m project aims to release its first Sussex Origin Sparkling wines in 2016, and some still wines in 2014, with sparkling production targeted to reach 1m bottles a year within a decade.
Rathfinny’s winery will employ sustainable design techniques and low carbon technologies, including the use of photo-voltaic cells to generate solar energy, a roof planted with wild flowers to aid heat insulation and shading on two sides to reduce the need for air conditioning.
Ground water will be sourced from the estate’s own bore hole, while waste water will be treated and released back onto the surrounding land.
Local materials are being used in building the gravity-fed winery, and Rathfinny is working with Natural England and the National Trust to create ‘wildlife corridors’ to improve biodiversity.
‘Every aspect of the construction of the winery has been designed to produce the highest-quality sparkling wine,’ said Driver.
‘We have taken an uncompromising approach to ensure that it will be one of the most high-tech and environmentally friendly wineries in the world.’
Rupert Seldon, partner and project manager at construction company Buro Four, described Rathfinny as a ‘unique project’ and said it aimed ‘to set a new global standard for sustainable wine production’.
Written by Richard Woodard