Tom Faulkner interviews Stephen Duckett, Hundred Hills Winery

It’s not often that the Tom Faulkner team have the excuse to take a little excursion to an exclusive winery nestled beautifully in the softly rolling hills of Oxfordshire. However just before Christmas we were invited to the Hundred Hills vineyard to see some specially commissioned Tom Faulkner pieces spectacularly installed in the winery’s Tasting Rooms by interior designers Spiering & Co. We were not only delighted to see the stunning space but also felt hugely privileged to be treated to an exclusive tour with owner Stephen Puckett. Afterwards Stephen very kindly agreed to answer a few questions so that we could share our discovery of the very special winery with you as well as showcase these very special bespoke TF pieces.

Tell us about Hundred Hills Winery and the wine you’re producing At Hundred Hills, we are producing world class English sparkling wines which we hope to rival the finest vintage champagnes. We have a beautiful location, perfect soils, a superb micro climate and world class vines from Burgundy in France together with a dedicated vineyard team and outstanding newly built winery so we hope to make a start towards this ambitious target right from our first 2016 vintage.

What made you decide on this location for your winery? We spent three years looking for the ideal location for a world class vineyard and winery in the south of England. We finally found the spot in the pristine Stonor Valley, our vineyards are planted on pure chalk hills and surrounded by ancient forests, giving us the perfect protected soils and micro climate to produce world class pinot noir and chardonnay grapes as well as a visually stunning location.

Tell us about the main Tasting Room and what you plan to use it for The tasting room has magnificent views of the both vineyards and the workings of the winery. The oak timbers and glass walls allow you to feel that the space really extends out to the vineyard while the picture windows allow a commanding view of the winery operations. We plan to use this room to entertain guests and to taste and enjoy our finest wines against the background of commanding views of the vineyards and of the modern winery. For us the room is an expression of modern craftsmanship. Likewise the Tom Faulkner furniture is an expression of all that is finest in modern design combined with traditions and integrity of English craftsmanship.

How did you come across Tom Faulkner furniture? We have admired Tom’s work for some time and were lucky enough to visit his studio in London early in the design stage for the winery. We have worked with Tom closely to choose furniture that perfectly matches our ambitions and hopes for the room.

Which TF pieces did you choose for your Tasting Room and why? As the centre piece of the room we chose the Exe Table with a nickel finish to reflect the craftsmanship of the steel tanks and fittings of the winery. In choosing the green leather chairs with the bronze finish, we hoped to bring the vibrancy of the surrounding vineyard and woodland into the winery. We matched this with the richness of the bespoke dark bronze framed cabinets with antique glass tops. For the bar area, we chose the playful AVA bar table with the Verdigris finish.

When do you anticipate starting to retail your wines and which do you expect will be your signature wine? We plan to age all our wines for at least three years on the lees to allow them time to fully develop their complexity and flavours. Each year we vinify parcels of the vineyards separately and we will make the finest wines from the heart of the press from our the finest parcels depending on the season. All our wines will be vintage wines, and our signature wines will be those that are the most complex and will best express our unique terroir and the specifics of the growing season.

What will 2018 bring for Hundred Hills winery? Next year will be a very exciting year for Hundred Hills winery. For the first time we hope to harvest grapes from all the vines in the vineyard and to have the entire winery up and running at full capacity. 2016 and 2017 have been magnificent years for us and we have high hopes for the 2018 vintage already.

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