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Top 10 extreme winery designs

There’s nothing quite like an architectural statement to generate press interest for wine producers, but some have gone much further than others when it comes to winery design…

Hotel Marques de Riscal
Frank Gehry’s Hotel Marqués de Riscal

Over the following pages we’ve amassed ten of the most extreme winery designs, using examples from the famous wine regions of Europe and the New World as well as more obscure parts of the viticultural globe.

While there are examples of extravagant buildings at wine-producing properties around the world, most notably architect Frank Gehry’s Hotel Marqués de Riscal at the eponymous Spanish producer’s estate, the buildings featured below differ in that all the following structures contain working wineries.

This is also why this list don’t include structures created purely for wine tourism, such as the new cellar door and lookout for Tasmania’s Devil’s Corner (pictured below), which was officially opened in December 2015, or Zaha Hadid’s extension to Rioja’s López de Heredia, which houses a tasting room that was completed in 2006 (pictured, bottom).

How did we choose these extreme wineries? Well, this is a selection of buildings where the form is as, if not more important than the function, and that form is striking. Indeed, these structures should display enough design flair to invite comment, even if it’s negative.

DC Cellar Door - Panorama
The cellar door and lookout for Devil’s Corner was officially opened in December 2015
The Zaha Hadid wine boutique at Haro’s Lopez de Heredia
And the same building, but from the inside

10. Château Margaux, Bordeaux, France

Margaux’s new Foster-designed winery. Picture credit: Nigel Young, Foster and Partners

Château Margaux officially opened new winery buildings designed by Sir Norman Foster in June last year, in time for the estate’s bicentenary.

The new chai is an extension of the eastern wing of the original cellar finished in 1815 and is described as a “highly flexible, open enclosure,” that includes a research and development centre, tasting room and offices.

As the architect’s notes describe: “The architecture reinterprets the region’s vernacular of tiled roof structures and harmonises with the Estate’s existing industrial buildings – the new winery comprises a pitched roof at the same level, supported by tree-shaped load bearing columns and punctuated by light wells.”

A tree like structure is meant to be evocative of the forest setting. Picture credit: Nigel Young, Foster and Partners
The new bottle store and tasting room. Picture credit: Francois-Poincet

9. Château Cheval Blanc, Bordeaux, France

Cheval Blanc winery1
Christian de Portzamparc’s new winery for Cheval Blanc appears to hover above the vines

Staying within Bordeaux, but moving banks to St Emilion, Château Cheval Blanc unveiled a new winery in 2011 designed by architect Christian de Portzamparc.

With two levels, the building incorporates a ground floor with 52 concrete fermentation vats and an underground ageing cellar. From the outside, the new winery makes a striking contrast to Cheval Blanc’s nineteenth century buildings, and the modern white concrete structure looks like a white sail or cloud floating above the vines.

The materials used for the winery have been chosen with energy efficiency in mind, with mashrabiya walls used to aid natural ventilation and a green roof to collect and filter rainfall for re-use.

The new winery makes a striking contrast to Cheval Blanc’s nineteenth century château. A green roof collects and filters rainwater
The building incorporates 52 concrete fermentation vats

8. Leo Hillinger, Austria

Winery profile
While most of the winery is underground, there is a glass cube visible from the ground level

In 2003, not far from Vienna, Austria gained a notable new addition one of its most famous viticultural landscapes. Sunk into the banks of Lake Neusiedl with little but a glass cube lookout visible from the ground level, Weingut Leo Hillinger had created one of the wine world’s most striking wineries, despite its small scale. Using local architects Gerda and Andreas Gerner, the underground concrete gravity-flow winery was not only designed to improve the producer’s output, but also its image – and Hillinger is now considered one of Austria’s coolest brands.

Such a perception was augmented in October 2003, and once more due to an architectural connection. This was because Leo Hillinger commissioned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid to design the producer’s Icon Hill 2009, of which just 999 bottles were made (pictured, bottom).

Known for her curvaceous structures, the bottle’s elongated form is inspired by the shape of a drop of wine and boasts, according to Hadid, “a light, tiptoeing footprint.”

leo_hillinger winery from the air
The winery is sunk into the banks of Austria’s Lake Neusiedl
Leo Hillinger Icon Hill
Leo Hillinger Icon Hill 2009 designed by Zaha Hadid

7. Pérez Cruz, Maipo, Chile

Chilean architect José Cruz Ovalle designed the winery for Pérez Cruz

Chilean family-owned wine-producer Pérez Cruz chose an architect from its own shores, José Cruz Ovalle, for its winery in the Alto Maipo.

Featuring a wooden structure on top of low stone walls. the 6,000 square metre building is designed to reflect both past civilisations and the native forests that used to cover this landscape.

Inside, the winery uses natural light and air circulation, which, along with a gravity-flow winemaking design, ensuring that energy inputs are minimised.

Perez Cruz barrel cellar
The Pérez Cruz barrel cellar
perez cruz interior
The Maipo-based winery’s interior

6. Medhurst Winery, Yarra Valley, Australia

Yarra’s Medhurst Winery was designed by Folk Architects

Completed in 2012, the new winemaking facility for Yarra’s Medhurst Winery was designed by Folk Architects and subsequently won the Victorian Architectural Award for commercial design.

The structure is built into a north-facing hillside to reduce the scale of the winery, and features a double-height polycarbonate wall to allow natural light into the fermentation hall, while a further section, made of concrete, encloses an underground barrel store.

The winery was the first project to be completed by Folk Architects.

The structure is built into a north-facing hillside
A double height polycarbonate wall allows natural light into the fermentation hall

5. O. Fournier Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Bórmida & Yanzón’s winery for O Fournier in Argentina

Designed by Bórmida & Yanzón Architects and completed in 2008, Mendoza’s O. Fournier Winery rises out of a vast plain of vineyards below the Andes mountains.

Using glass, concrete and stainless steel, the structure has not been designed to harmonise with the surrounding landscape, but to make a striking visual statement, while facilitating a gravity-flow winemaking system within the building.

It has also been designed with tourists in mind, and visitors can tour the winery, from the underground barrel cellar to a viewing area at the top of the structure.

The underground barrel cellar
Using glass, concrete and stainless steel, the structure has not been designed to harmonise with the surrounding landscape but to make a striking visual statement

4. Bodegas Portia, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Bodegas Portia features a trefoil plan to comprise the three main stages of production. Picture credit:

Officially opened in November 2010, Ribera del Duero’s Bodegas Portia cost over €25 million and employed one of the design world’s most famous names: Sir Norman Foster. The winery, which is owned by the Faustino Group, features a trefoil plan to comprise the three main stages of production: fermentation; ageing; and maturation in bottle.

At the buidling’s core is an operations hub, from which all stages of the production process can be controlled. To allow for gravity-flow throughout the winemaking process, the grapes are delivered to the winery via a road that rises on to the roof, which incorporates photovoltaics for energy production. Meanwhile, the wings containing the barrel and bottle cellars are partly dug into the sloping site to make use of the naturally lower temperatures of the soil.

Portia Profile
The winery is owned by the Faustino Group. Picture credit:
Portia barrel hall
Bodegas Portia cost over €25 million and employed one of the design world’s most famous names: Sir Norman Foster. Picture credit:

 3. Dominus Estate, Napa Valley, California

Dominus Estate
Dominus Estate’s winery was designed by Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron

In 1996, Napa’s Dominus Estate, which is owned by Bordeaux’s Christian Moueix, gained a new winery designed by Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron.

Costing US$5m, the building is famous for its use of wired cages filled with stones called gabions, which are more commonly used in river engineering.
These provide a natural thermal barrier to the extremes of temperature in the region, although they also allow the passage of natural light with varying degrees of transparency.
The building is famous for its use of stone-filled wired cages, known as gabions
The winery was unveiled in 1996 and cost US$5m to build

2. Bodegas Ysios, Rioja, Spain

Santiago Calatrava designed Bodegas Ysios to mimic the Cantabrian mountains
Designed by highly-respected Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, Bodegas Ysios has been sculpted to mimic the Cantabrian mountains to the north of the winery using an undulating roof made from wood and aluminium.

Although the structure is a striking addition to the Riojan landscape, the daring design has reputedly suffered problems since it was completed in 2011. Indeed, according to The Guardian, the roof has continually let in water, and after several unsuccessful attempts by the architect’s builders to fix the leaks, Calatrava was taken to court, with the winery demanding that the designer pay part of the £1.7m needed to ensure the structure remains water-tight.

Ysios barrel cellar
The daring design has reputedly suffered problems since it was completed in 2011
ysios roof
The structure is a striking addition to the Riojan landscape, but the roof leaks

 1. Château Cos d’Estournel, Bordeaux, France

cos d'estournal
Château Cos d’Estournel in St Estèphe has an Asian-inspired facade
If there’s one winery that has attracted architectural comment since it’s construction in 1830, it’s Château Cos d’Estournel in St Estèphe. Designed to remind its founder, Louis d’Estournel – a successful merchant who amassed a fortune in Asia – of his time in the Far East, the winery features pagodas and carved doors from Zanzibar.
The striking Asian-inspired structure is also designed and built entirely to house a working winery and barrel cellar. However, the property contains a villa called La Chartreuse, which was refurbished in 2013 by BPM Architects, and is now available for rent (pictured, bottom).
Cos label
The label has always featured the winery’s striking design, with its pagodas rising above the surrounding vines
La Chartreuse
The property includes a villa called La Chartreuse, which was refurbished in 2013 by BPM Architects

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