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About the Client

Simpsons Wine Estate owners 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 bought their winemaking expertise back to the UK in 2012 to pioneer an English sparkling wine project.

The Simpsons Wine Estate Bar Fit Out and Refurbishment Project in Canterbury The Simpsons Wine Estate Bar Fit Out and Refurbishment Project in Canterbury

Client Brief

Simpsons Wine Estate contacted Rap Interiors to convert a section of their winery into a state of the art visitor attraction. Rap Interiors was responsible for both the design and conversion of the space, which entailed utilising an existing two-storey mezzanine within the winery.

The works included the creation of a meet and greet area with WCs, a staff tea point and additional storage space on ground level, an office space on floor one, and a high end wine tasting room to hold events on floor two. In addition to these spaces, Ruth and Charles Simpson wanted colour-changing LED floodlights to illuminate the winery and a Helter Skelter slide to transport guests from the wine tasting room to the ground floor for an unforgettable post-tasting exit.

Our Solution

Commercial Interior Design: The Simpsons Wine Estate Meet and Greet Area Commercial Interior Design: The Simpsons Wine Estate Meet and Greet Area

The Meet and Greet Area

Beneath the new staircase, Rap’s interior designers suggested implementing a display feature to add aesthetic interest to the meet and greet area. The design included shelves to display wine bottles and a bespoke wine rack effect feature within the spandrel. To finish, the glass surrounding the staircase included manifestation with the Simpsons crest for a sophisticated touch.

Other features of the design included a wall vinyl graphic showing an image of the Simpsons’ vineyard, furniture for waiting guests, two luxury WCs and a storyboard wall with images chronicling the narrative journey of Simpsons Wine Estate.

Office Meeting Room Design with a Feature Wall Designed by Rap Interiors Office Meeting Room Design with a Feature Wall Designed by Rap Interiors

The First Floor Office Fit Out

Creating the functional office space Ruth and Charles envisaged entailed implementing a number of spaces. These spaces included a rooms for the directors and manager, a boardroom, and a further open plan office.

For the directors’ office design, Rap introduced a pebble effect carpet with a champagne-yellow zebra crossing feature and furnished the space with oak desking, pedestals and a meeting table. As per Ruth and Charles’s request, Rap also ensured the directors’ office overlooked the winery through intelligent space planning.

Simpsons Wine Estate Glasshouse Tasting Room Simpsons Wine Estate Glasshouse Tasting Room

The Glasshouse Tasting Room

With the view of attracting tourism and new clients to Simpsons Wine Estate, Ruth and Charles wanted Rap’s interior designers from Kent to transform the second floor of the mezzanine into a state of the art wine tasting venue. Known as the ‘Glasshouse’, the venue would provide an aerial view of the winery to show guests where the magic happens.

The Glasshouse would be split into two sections: a bar area where the Simpsons team could host the wine tasting events and a luxurious lounge for guests to unwind while taking in the stunning view of the winery.

A Word with Ruth Simpson, Simpsons Wine Estate Co-Director

What has been the major attraction for you to expand into Kent?

“We were excited by the prospect of being part of the developing English Wine Industry. We’re also British by birth, so ultimately it was fascinating for us that our homeland was now able to produce really high end wines.

“Wine has been made in England for many years but it’s not been high end method traditional sparkling wine using the champagne varieties, so we spotted an opportunity. Ultimately it was the dynamism of the industry and the desire to be part of that movement that attracted us.”

Why did you embark on needing a wine tasting venue?

“In France we do not have a visitors’ facility because we realise that with the low population in southern France everyone’s cousin or uncle or grandfather has a plot of vines. There are vineyards as far as the eye can see so it’s not cool or interesting to be making wine in the South of France.

“As far as the local population is concerned in the South of France you might get the odd tourist during the summer when it is a cloudy day and you can’t go to the beach, but there’s not the same demand for wine tourism in our area of France.

“Here in Kent, however, we realised there was huge opportunity for tourism, as both the local residents and visitors from further afield are fascinated by the fact that the UK can now produce a very high quality product.

“Therefore, a commercial fit out became a viable project for us. Our plan was to bring people in for tours and tastings ahead of actually selling them some wine at the end of 2018. Clearly that also means staffing it appropriately; we have people trained up to host tasting events so it’s a different area of the business that we can develop in conjunction with the actual wine production side.”

What are your aspirations for the venue?

“Essentially it’s about increasing footfall and visitor numbers, raising awareness of our brand, and attracting customers for our wine.”

How will it help to grow your brand?

“Our monthly vineyard and winery tours will help to raise awareness of our brand. We can really get people excited about the product and this will hopefully result in us getting pre-orders for wine ready for its release at the end of the year and into 2019.”

What are your expectations?

“It’s about having a more of a presence within the English wine industry and ultimately attracting more visitors. For example, we’re now on the radar of people like Visit Kent who will hopefully be able to talk more about our business.

“It’s such a long lead time between purchasing the land, planting the vines and actually having a product to sell, so certainly by organising events it’s a way for the business to generate some income before we actually move on to wine sales.”

Did Rap live up to your expectations and what made you choose them over anyone else?

“Rap definitely lived up to our expectations. I think what attracted us to Rap was the fact that it could handle the design, construction and furniture elements of the fit out. This meant that although there were a lot of decisions that had to be funnelled through them we didn’t have to work with multiple companies.

“Rap being a Kent based organisation business was another attraction. We were also attracted by the fact that Rick and Julie were a husband and wife team like ourselves.”

Would you recommend Rap to other businesses?

“Yes, absolutely!”

Warehouse Fit Out in Kent with a Helter Skelter Slide

Thank You for Choosing Rap Interiors

With the stunning Glasshouse tasting room, inviting meet and greet area and practical office space, Ruth and Charles now have the facilities they need to grow their brand in the UK. We loved being involved in this incredible project and are sure the visitors will have a great experience when they arrive.

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