DESIGN INTENTION Set amid the rolling hills of Coombsville, a bowl-shaped appellation in the Southeastern corner of the Napa Valley, the site for this winery is a pristine hillside bordered by residential development. Winemaker Julien Fayard is known for his passion for both the wine and the land. Our challenge was to create a winery that reflected his dedication to creating something extraordinary and unexpected, while leaving a minimal footprint on the land.
DESIGN SOLUTION Our answer was to place the winery completely underground, between the vineyard and a grove of California live oaks. Marked only by three circular portals and gently arching walls that mimic the curves of the hillside, the new winery maintains the peaceful ambiance of the wooded hillside. Much like the quiet Coombsville region, the newest AVA in the Napa Valley, the winery is hidden in plain site. To avoid losing any trees to construction, we curved the walls around the existing landscape. As a result, the wall becomes an undulating sculptural form when seen from above, and establishes an elegant, but subtle presence on the hillside.
An arching willow trellis at the North portal delineates the primary entry, and reflects the curve of the hillside. Cutting the opening from a single steel plate allowed us to maintain the portal’s perfect circle. The concrete and local stone that allow the exterior to nearly disappear into the hillside continue within the caves. By placing the tasting room, employee lounge and office functions near the portal entries, we allowed them to benefit from natural light. Curved tunnels, originating from each of the outer portals, expand and contract in response to the winemaking processes they accommodate, the offset curves invoking a sense of tension and release that intensifies the experience. By taking the contours of the cave walls and reflecting them on the ceiling, we created dramatic ribbed barrel vaults on the interior.
The architecture and wine branding were developed concurrently, which allowed both the architecture and graphic design teams to create a synergistic relationship between the architecture and the winery’s visual identity.