We plan to take this unloved but beautiful building & turn it into a first class English wine production & visitor centre.
West Fisher has been the life & passion for my wife & I for almost 13 years now, we want to continue in this incredible industry and grow into the venue we know we can be.
Born in 2009 we moved onto Skid Hill Farm back in April 2012, we invested almost 9 years of our lives (not to mention a lot of our own money) on a near derelict building, transforming it into a fantastic venue and winery. Sadly back in September 2020 we were asked to leave with little or no explanation, that hurt. We invested heavily during lockdown to improve the premises on the promise of a new lease, this promise was broken.
This is what our tasting room used to look like.
Sadly this is what it looks like now!
What does this mean? Sadly West Fisher is now homeless and working out of temporary storage in the back end of a shop unit near our home in Warlingham, Surrey (it's like 2009 all over again!). We no longer have a premises license so have no online shop presence and only a handful of markets left. This can only go on for a few months or we will lose all of our grape contracts for 2021, that means no wine for 2022 so realistically no West Fisher!
So why Westwood Farm Barn? The building has incredible character, a large area for customer parking, it's own entrance and it is very close to the A25 in Westerham. The landlord is reasonable and open to ideas, Clacket lane services are only 1 minutes drive away and the A25 just 300 yards away!
What are our goals? To improve the building, make it into a usable space for production at ground floor with a character tasting room upstairs. Eventually we hope to open up the outside as well and to expand into storage containers for more contract wine production. It may be possible to expand the barn in later years but that is something we will explore at another time.
What are the pitfalls? It is an old building and it will need extensive alterations, that costs money. The yard and access need a lot of improvements and there's no drainage on site, a further expense.
Can it be done? Yep, absolutely! The vision is there, the potential is there, the expertise is there and we have the track record to make it work. We have the experience, we have the equipment, we have the knowledge, we have the contacts, we have the contracts as well as a proven long standing relationship with Groupon, Wowcher & BuyaGift, not to mention our lovely and loyal customers. we lack only one thing, err, a building?
So what are the works we need to do? It is a long list.
Rewire the entire building, put in new gates and improve the access, fit new doors, locks & security systems, fit 3 roof light windows, fit a new staircase, put in a new wire fence and plant some vines as a hedge, install a large area of concrete hard standing to accommodate 2 containers with some steps and ramped access to the winery, put in reclaimed pallet fencing around the containers, line the entire building internally with 9mm structural ply, install additional windows overlooking the parking area & yard, fit a new bar, kitchen, toilets & drainage which also includes a sewage treatment plant as the nearest drainage is half a mile away. That about covers it, we hope.
There are some structural alterations that will need undertaking but that we can handle. We have about half of the money we need but no buffer zone or safety net. We know the business model works, we were holding our own through Covid even expanding our equipment and online sales by almost 40%, we have contracts lined up to produce wine for other growers so there is a revenue stream waiting, plus we have a proven track record with Groupon and drop in customers alike, we know we can make it work but we are realistic enough to know we need some help.
That, we hope, is where you come in.