There’s more to making fine wine than growing and harvesting, crushing and pressing, fermenting and clarifying, then aging, bottling and corking.
There’s architecture also. It’s a discipline that can eclipse a winery’s functionality with beauty and grace – and no small amount of branding.
Here we have four world-class wineries on as many continents. They’re homes to excellent wines, to be sure – but also to the work of some of the top designers on the planet.
Architect Raed Abillama turned his vision into an internationally recognized green building. Constructed underground, the winery kept the landscape intact, while a restored 17th-century feudal house serves as entrance and symbol for the winery. “Abillama is a well-known architect, and an authority on the integration of modern construction with old, authentic Lebanese buildings,” says Aurélie Khoros, brand manager at Ixsir, which is located in Batroun. “Ixsir was named by CNN as one of the greenest buildings in the world, and won the international Architizer A+ Award as well,” she adds.
Mission Hill, Canada
In British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley in 1991, proprietor Anthony von Mandl purchased land for a vineyard and winery, and plunged into planting. “Most of the early efforts went into the vineyards and developing the land,” says Darryl Brooker, general manager and chief winemaker. “Then in the late 1990s, he put in the winery, the cellars and the winemaking facility.” In 1996, he called in Tom Kundig, a young architect with a big future. Mission Hill was one of Kundig’s first projects, and his designs there would help him achieve his rock-star status today.
Viña Vik, Chile
In 2004, Alex Vik challenged his scientific team to produce the best red wine in South America. They chose a valley between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, 26km from San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, analyzed the soil, wind and water, and commenced planting in 2006. Then they got serious about design. “We held an architectural competition with entries from the top architects in Chile,” Brooker says. Winner Smiljan Radic worked for three years to perfect the winery’s location, design and materials. In 2014, he finished, and Vik began making wine there.
Antinori Nel Chianti Classico, Italy
For six centuries and 26 generations, the Antinori family has been making fine wines in Tuscany. In 1971, they introduced their first vintage of Tignanello, made out of Sangiovese grapes with a small percentage of Cabernet. It was considered a trailblazer for the new Italian wine Renaissance. From 2004 to 2012, architect Marco Casamonti of Archea Associati designed and built a new winery in the hillside area of Chianti Classico, a 30-minute drive from Florence. He integrated it into the rural landscape, concealing the complex with a covering that blends its new facade into the countryside.
Feature image: Viña Vik courtyard
Words J. Michael Welton