To the relief of many, a visit to a winery no longer has to resemble an
agricultural outing with the mandatory trudging along dirt paths and in
dark cellars listening to winegrowers go on and on about the terroir of
their cru. Wineries — and not just in the newer wine-producing regions
— are starting to wake up to today’s design sensibilities.
With winery buildings now often designed by famous architects, and with
spectacular winery hotels, wineries with luxurious spas, cool
wine-tasting bars, and imaginative wine shops popping up everywhere,
the once stuffy wine culture is beginning to feel a bit more like
something that even someone without a burning interest in either viti-
or viniculture could enjoy.
Wineries are now full-blown brands, where everything from the buildings
all the way down to the towels used in the winery’s spa reflects the
brand story and the brand identity. This is not to say that the wine
itself no longer matters. On the contrary. Most often, the more
passionate the wine growing and the more distinctive the qualities of
the wine, the more attention is paid to the overall brand. Of course,
money plays a role here as well. If the wine is no good and nobody buys
it, there isn’t likely to be a designer spa on the property.
An early example of a winery that took the winery visit idea a bit
further is the Wilson Daniels estate winery Pegase di Domaine Clos
California’s Napa Valley. It’s often touted as a
place of pilgrimage and “America’s first monument to wine as art.”
Designed by Michael Graves and completed in 1987, the intriguing winery
structure with its 20,000 square feet of caves now houses 1,000 works
of art including Salvador Dali, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon.
A more recent example of winery-as-design-destination is the Frank Gehry-designed Hotel Marques de Riscal
in the medieval Spanish village of Elciego. The startling Gehry
building, located at one of the oldest vineyards in Spain, has 43
rooms, a cooking school and two elite restaurants. The spa offers
specialized wine therapy treatments that with the help of the wine’s
antioxidant properties are said to relieve stress and slow ageing.
So although we are duly impressed with those who are fluent with
appellations, terroirs and crus, we must admit that we are more drawn
to all things beautiful to the eye. So we’d love to see more of the
world’s most amazing wineries, wine-tasting bars, wine showrooms and
winery hotels. Let us know where they are, so that we can share the joy
with the world. Send your tips to [email protected]
or via here
. By Tuija Seipell\