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Winery design – why less is now more

The boldness and beauty of today’s most striking wineries reflect not only their distinctive landscapes but also the ethos and identity of the brands behind them

Words by Club Oenologique Editors

world winery architecture
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Part of the 540,000-sq-ft Antinori winery in Bargino (see below for details) (photo: Pietro Savorelli, Leonardo Finotti)

‘In a way, great wine is like great architecture, in that it emerges from the terroir around it, when necessity and invention result in unpredictable works of down-to-earth beauty.’ So says Victor Deupi, a teacher of architectural history, theory and design at the University of Miami, in his introduction to Rizzoli’s Wineries of the World, which celebrates the architecture and design of contemporary winemaking.

That the granddaddy of coffee-table tomes should commission a work on such a previously niche subject says much about the increasing interest in winery design. There was a time when a winery was merely a functional outbuilding – a stone hut in the vineyard, designed with a job in mind and little thought given to aesthetics. Such edifices still exist – notably in Burgundy, at such vaunted estates as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – but most high-end wineries now reflect the brand, conveying status, prestige and ambition.

Wineries have begun to embrace more nuanced approaches to cultural landscapes, green viticulture and architectural contexts

Such aspirations first dawned in the second half of the 20th century, when California winemaking ambition meant that the winery became a necessary vehicle for renovation, expansion and an updated identity. A series of bold investments and innovative designs at the likes of Robert Mondavi, Sterling Vineyards and Clos Pegase kickstarted a movement that has seen such architectural luminaries as Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Steven Holl, Santiago Calatrava, Rafael Moneo, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Herzog & de Meuron put their names to winery ventures.

More recently, says Deupi, wineries have begun to explore less monumental and expressive forms of architecture and instead embrace more nuanced approaches to cultural landscapes, green viticulture, justifiable building systems and materials, and vernacular architectural contexts. ‘The onus is on today’s wineries to respond more efficiently to energy and resource consumption, material lifespan and green building practices, and to suit the particular winemaking processes of the estate, as well as providing a compelling image for the ever-expanding oenotourism market. Rather than repeat established traditions cultivated over centuries throughout Europe, the contemporary architecture of wine has become a modern celebration of place.’

Antinori, Italy

Antinori winery in Bargino
(Photo: Pietro Savorelli, Leonardo Finotti)

The 540,000-sq-ft Antinori winery in Bargino, completed in 2012, was built into the Chianti hills, following the contours of the land to ensure minimal environmental impact. As well as the winery facilities, the complex comprises offices, a museum, an auditorium, a restaurant, and several outdoor spaces for entertaining. Designed by the Florentine firm Archea Associati, it features a series of courtyards and configurations that allow natural light into the buildings, most of which are set underground.

Encuentro Guadalupe, Mexico

Encuentro Guadalupe
(Photo: Luis Garcia)

Encuentro Guadalupe is a 94-acre development in the Valle de Guadalupe hills in Baja California, Mexico’s wine country. Completed in 2012 by Mexican architect Jorge Gracia, the complex is set in an ecological reserve and includes a winery, hotel and private residence designed in a sober modern architectural style that Deupi describes as ‘both visionary and rustic’.

Bodega Zuccardi, Argentina

Bodega Zuccardi
(Photo: Estudio Garcia+Betancourt)

Bodega Zuccardi’s 95,000-sq-ft Valle de Uco winery, opened in 2016, appears to emerge directly from the soil and is designed to mirror the profile of the Andes mountains in the distance. The winery’s walls of cyclopean rocks rise from the earth, while a metallic dome at the centre reflects the light of the sky at different times of the day.

Château Cheval Blanc, France

Château Cheval Blanc
(Photo: Erick Saillet, Max Botton)

The 65,000-sq-ft cellar at St-Emilion’s Château Cheval Blanc was built, adjacent to the previous winemaking facility, by Parisian atelier Christian de Portzamparc. Unveiled in 2011, it was conceived as a ‘winery under a hill’ and functions as a promontory belvedere that extends out from the château, complete with rooftop garden overlooking the vines.

Bodegas Beronia, Spain

Bodegas Beronia
(Photo: Aitor Oritz)

Founded in 1973, Bodegas Beronia became part of the González Byass group in 1982. In 2016, after the purchase of two vineyards in Rueda, it opened a new winery in the region, its exterior marked by large projecting bay windows and clad in rusted steel panels to convey a ‘raw sense of earthiness’, says Deupi.

COR Cellars, USA

COR Cellars
(Photo: Kevin Scott)

Small is beautiful for Luke Bradford, who founded COR Cellars in 2004 on the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State. The 22-acre vineyard is run on organic principles, and the winery buildings, completed in 2016, are made of wood and clad in vertical cedar tongue-and-groove board, with a semi-transparent ebony stain.

wineries of the world

All images from Wineries of the World: Architecture and Viniculture, by Oscar Riera Ojeda and Victor Deupi (Rizzoli New York, 2021)