So what of the rest? Well, today I just want to look at the cool bits and pieces. Some of these are fairly iconic elements of their wineries, some are famous, but all of them make you want to visit!
So without further ado, here’s what makes a winery cool. Put them all together and I think you end up with Las Vegas!
The oven of Castiglione. Designed to take in the breathtaking, nearly 360-degree view from the top of a hill in the Barolo-producing village of Castiglione Falleto, Ceretto’s cube is well-known. Not only is it a fascinating break with tradition, but the bare glass walls and thick metal floor seem particularly better suited to roasting chickens than welcoming customers. Still, it is eye-catching.
Built in 1989, the dome of the Boutari Winery on Santorini is layered with symbolism. First off, it’s white, which is symbolic of the island’s architecture; but since there’s a law on Santorini that says your building has to white, that should probably be considered a design restriction rather than a choice.
The design of the dome, however, is classically proportioned. And while dictated in part by an internal layout that allows for an amphitheater as well as tasting rooms, it serves as an iconic symbol for the island’s burgeoning wine industry. It also helps keep the interior cool, as does the white exterior, all good and fine for protection against the sun. But Santorini is a volcano you know, and that dome looks suspiciously like a Turkish grill. Big white egg? I’m just saying.
Bodegas Protos’ Arches
It seems wineries love simple architectural features and a large scale. Spain’s Bodegas Protos really take this thinking to heart. Their deceptively simply looking winery structures are five huge arches that look sort of like the barbecue pavilions at state parks – on steroids.
These things are huge, but they have to be to house the state of the art winemaking facilities that fit under these multiple roofs. And it’s those roofs that both make this striking as well as functional. It’s hot in Spain and wines hate to be hot, so by creating a huge expanse of roofing, the winery is able to take advantage of the thermal mass of the massive triangular plinth the structure sits on without looking like a Soviet factory. It’s a win-win.
Hillinger’s “Sleeper” Obsession
The Austrians are a funny people, peculiar even. And while Leo Hillinger’s exquisite little winery really is an exceptional integration of man and nature, I can’t help but think of the Woody Allen movie, “Sleeper”!
I can almost imagine that there are, in fact, giant mutant chickens running around outside the winery; but the real question has to be: Where is the Orgasmatron?
Sterling Vineyards’ white hilltop facility also looks like it could have been plucked from the movie “Sleeper.” Built just a few years after the house that was featured in the movie, the winery features a similar minimalist look, which in this case appears to be an almost postmodernist take on a traditional castle.
The coolest, and sadly most depressing, part of the Sterling Winery visit is that you can actually take a cable car up to the winery from the valley floor. Cool because it’s a cable car, dude. In Napa valley! And yes the views are wonderful but it’s still depressing because it costs $25! That includes a self-guided tour and five wines to taste, but still. Okay, it’s still cool(ish).
Clos Pegase’s Art Collection
Alright, this is much cooler today than it was 25 years ago. That’s almost exclusively because I am 25 years older and while I can now appreciate art in a different way than all those years ago, let me just say that the Clos Pegase Winery is still ugly with its Italian/Memphis-inspired design. Ugly, child’s playhouse chic.
So what the heck am I talking about then? Well, how about more than 1000 pieces of art that the Clos Pegase collection has available to them! The grounds are festooned with sculptures new and ancient and the visitor’s center houses artwork from the winery’s founder’s personal collection. Great wines and pretty pictures in a beautiful place. What could be better?
Darioush’s Monument to Persia
Okay, monument might be a little bit of a loose usage here, but Darioush Khaledi, the founder of the eponymous winery and gentleman of Iranian origin, did build one crazy looking winery! Actually it’s not the winery, just the entrance to the visitor’s center and the visitor’s center itself that harken back to the times of Arabian nights.
Incidentally, it’s kind of ironic that Darioush is actually from Iran’s Shiraz region. While the winery has stuck with modern Bordeaux-inspired blends, it seems the owner has a little bit more in common with the Hermitage Bordeaux blends of the past.
I’ve been talking mostly about features with these wineries, having discussed entire winery designs in past emails; but one winery just never seemed to fit in anywhere, so I’ve saved it for last. Artesa is a winery, sort of, but it’s also one of the most designed structures I’ve ever seen.
The level of integration between structural design, landscape design, water features and the industrial necessities of being a working winery is just phenomenal! This is about as close to plantscaping as I’ve ever seen. Not only has the entire underground/above ground winery structure been planted here, but it has somehow become one with its surroundings. This was originally built as Cordoniu’s Napa outpost and the resources really do show.