The World's First Vineyard Inside an Airport Takes Root in Florence: What to Expect

Alessandra Meldolesi
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The construction of the world's first airport vineyard will begin this year: it will be located at Florence's Amerigo Vespucci Airport, where the Rafael Viñoli studio plans to include winemaking and aging facilities, embodying the epitome of Tuscan tradition.

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In the collective imagination, nothing seems farther from the peaceful countryside than the roar of airplanes. Breaking the mold, as Decanter explains, is the Rafael Viñoli studio, still named after the late starchitect in 2023, author of masterpieces from London to Chicago, and even Kuala Lumpur. They've devised a revolutionary project for Florence's Amerigo Vespucci Airport: a new terminal, slated to be completed in 2026, designed to accommodate six million international transit passengers annually.

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On its rooftop, which is nearly 8 hectares in size, a vineyard will grow, its green or reddish rows visible from above, heralding the landing in the art city. The ambition is to represent the latest icon among Renaissance masterpieces. However, although fertile roofs are not new, technical challenges abound. "The main difficulty associated with a rooftop vineyard is weight management," emphasizes director Román Viñoli. "A certain amount of soil is needed for the plants to grow, and that soil must be moist. It's a mass that isn't easy to handle when right below you're trying to build lightweight, bright, airy environments, as people expect from a modern airport experience."

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Prefabricated concrete structures, supported by a network of pillars, will hold the soil on which the plants will grow, along with the irrigation system, allowing for flexible spaces below. There's another problem, no less significant: foreign objects, including vegetation, must not reach the engines. Similarly, exhausts must not pollute the vineyard, compromising its fruits.

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To balance the different needs of the airport and the vineyard, it will only occupy a portion of the roof measuring 2.4 hectares, away from airplanes, on the opposite side of the runways. Below, there won't be walkable areas, but soil, so that the roots can penetrate deep. The rest of the roof will simulate a vineyard, but it won't produce wine.

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Winemaking and aging will also take place in the Amerigo Vespucci facilities, in a cellar behind departures, where the ground begins its ascent towards the terminal. However, the grape varieties to be planted, likely Tuscan natives, and the company to take charge are still to be decided, probably a historic family. For the airport's owner, Corporacion America, wine is nothing new: the multinational already owns two wineries in Patagonia and Armenia.

Wine Reporter

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