Simpsons Wine Estate has finished the installation of their new, state of the art Glasshouse Tasting Room at their winery in Barham, Kent. This was the last stage in their renovation project, which has seen the conversion of their two barns into a winery, office space and high-end visitor attraction.
Owners Ruth and Charles commissioned Rap Interiors, an office design agency, to carry out the transformation. Rap was responsible for both the design and conversion of the space, which involved utilising a two-storey mezzanine floor within the winery.
Ruth Simpson says, “We know that wine tourism is a huge growth area in the UK, so wanted to make sure we have a really special visitor experience for those interested in English Wine. We’ve found that people in the local area and further afield are fascinated that the UK can now produce very high-quality wines and we hope that our vineyard and winery tours, at this fantastic new facility, will help visitors learn more about it.”
Using Charles and Ruth’s vision to create a high-end visitor facility, Rap interiors transformed the top floor of the mezzanine into a wine tasting room by encasing it in glass and implementing a multitude of custom made design features. These included the following:
- A bespoke bar with an ocean ripple finish and integrated, self-cleaning spittoons.
- A hanging pendant light with custom wine glass bulbs etched with the Simpsons Wine Estate logo.
- ‘S’ shaped wine bottle holders fashioned out of aluminium metal.
- A lavish seating area with plush velvet sofas and cocktail chairs.
- A Helter skelter slide, named ‘The Fruit Shute’, which transports guests from the Glasshouse Tasting room to ground floor. This was conceived by the Simpsons, who wanted to achieve an unforgettable and fun post-tasting exit from the tasting room.
Scott Howard, Rap’s Senior Designer adds, “To enhance the wine tasting experience for guests, we also fitted LED floodlights in the external part of the mezzanine to light up the winery. The floodlights can dim and change colour, making for a gasp inducing spectacle for overlooking crowds. This has been a really great project to be involved in – we’re sure that visitors to the winery will enjoy the experience when they arrive!”
Ruth and Charles bought their first vineyard and winery, Domaine Sainte Rose, in the Languedoc, South of France, in 2002. After enjoying great success across the channel, they brought their winemaking expertise back to the UK in 2012 to pioneer an English Sparkling Wine project. They invested in 90 acres (30 hectares) of land in the North Downs in Kent – an area ideally suited to viticulture – and from 2014 to 2017 planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines across three sites.
Their first harvest took place in autumn 2016, and last year, they released their first wine from the Estate, a limited edition, still Chardonnay. Their first Sparkling wine will be released in time for Christmas this year.
The Rap Interiors team was lucky enough to sample the Simpsons’ French wines at a tasting event following the completion of the works. The wines on offer included a sumptuous 2015 sparkling Rosé made using the traditional champagne method; a silky smooth, Roussanne, Chardonnay, Viognier blend named Le Marin Blanc; and La Garrigue, a full-bodied and characterful red made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
If you’re a budding sommelier, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Vineyard and Winery Tours at Simpsons Wine Estate will begin again in March 2018. Full details can be found at www.simpsonswine.com.
About Rap Interiors
Established in 1988, Rap Interiors is a design, fit out and refurbishment contractor based in the South East. Working from offices in Maidstone, Brighton, London and Croydon, Rap produces cutting edge interior design solutions for a range of markets, including commercial & office, education, retail & leisure, hospitality and more.
If the Simpsons Wine Estate story has inspired you to make changes to your interiors, then click on the link below to see more finished projects, download brochures and arrange a free design consultation.