Rothbury Estate Winery
Allen Jack + Cottier,
Keith Cottier (designer)
date of completion
Rothbury Estate Winery, Hunter Valley, NSW
Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) Register of Significant Buildings
The Rothbury Estate Winery at Pokolbin, NSW was the first modern architecturally designed winery in Australia, setting a precedent for a distinctive Australian building typology: the ‘cellar door’. In the late 1960s by Len Evans, wine columnist and director of the Australian Wine Bureau gathered together a syndicate including Rudy Komon (gallery owner and wine connisseur) and Murray Tyrrell (winemaker) with the aim of establishing a vineyard. It was Evans who led the project, working closely with Keith Cottier of the firm of Allen, Jack and Cottier to determine exactly how the winery would function. Such was Evan’s optimism that the first stage was completed in 1970 before the Rothbury Estate had its first vintage (followed by a second stage in 1972).
The Great Cask Hall, the centrepiece of the project, was inspired by the long tradition of cathedral-like timber woolsheds in country NSW. The winery exemplifies Cottier’s pragmatic approach to design, focusing on the relationship between the building and its environment and a spatial progression derived from operational requirements. By taking advantage of the slope of the land grape delivery and processing could be gravity fed. The Rothbury Estate soon began to draw visitors to wine festivals and wine auctions, fulfilling Evans’s aim to demystify wine drinking. Although the building has been extended and the winery has changed hands, the intended approach through the vineyard and the Great Cask Hall can still be appreciated today.
Text adapted from an entry by Noni Boyd in Australia Modern: Architecture, Landscape and Design 1925-1975, Hannah Lewi and Philip Goad (2019, Thames and Hudson).