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Faustino unveils Portia to UK press

The first press visit to Sir Norman Foster’s as-yet-unfinished Bodegas Portia was held yesterday in Ribera del Duero.

Journalists were were shown around the building by Foster+Partners architect Pedro Haberbosch and Antonio Ballaster, export director for Grupo Faustino, Portia’s owner.

The winery’s trefoil design has already been lauded by the Royal Academy in London, where a model of project was displayed last year as part of its 2009 Summer Exhibition. The drawings are reportedly set to feature at the same show this year.

The three points of the trefoil house the fermentation areas, and barrel and bottle cellars, while the ten 53,000-litre blending tanks sit in the centre.

‘We asked ourselves what we can do that is really relevant to winemaking. The idea was to minimise the route the wine has to take,’ Haberbosch said.

He added that the building should age in the same way as a wine.

‘We felt that winemaking is time, and we wanted to represent this in the materials used. With few exceptions, it is entirely natural. We used Fair-faced concrete [which has a surface designed to weather], wood which was mostly oak but not highly polished so as to have texture and expressions just like a wine.’

Haberbosch said the roof, partly made of weathering (or Corten) steel, would also age over the years.

The project initially cost Rioja giant Bodegas Faustino €25m but Ballaster admitted this had increased since its inception.

While there is still no fixed date for the winery’s official opening, which King Juan Carlos of Spain has agreed to attend, an inauguration in mid-September 2010 is being discussed.

When finished, the building, which covers 11,300m2 and has an annual production capacity of 1m litres, will also be a visitor centre and tourist destination.

Lord Foster’s best-known projects include 30 St Mary Axe in the City of London (better known as The Gherkin), the Millau viaduct in France, the Hearst Tower in New York City and the Bejing Airport building.

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Written by Oliver Styles in Ribera del Duero

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