Feast your eyes on these architecture-forward wineries

Thirty years ago, wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma was pretty straightforward—no cheese, or tours, accompanied your sampling back then. But the days of simply bellying-up to the nondescript tasting bar for a quick flight of wines are long gone. With roughly , options throughout the two regions, wineries are turning to cutting-edge architecture and design to set them apart from the competition.

Today’s wineries invite guests to relax, take in the view, and stay awhile. Striking contemporary tasting rooms draw inspiration from their estate’s history, landscape, and winemaking practices to attract visitors and tell their winery’s story in dramatic fashion.

From a midcentury modern living room to the most sustainably built winery in the country, we’ve rounded up seven design-forward and architecturally awe-inspiring wine-sipping spots in Napa and Sonoma.

Opus One Winery

It’s safe to say that California wine country’s architectural renaissance started with Opus One. When the esteemed winery opened in , it was by far the most vanguard design around and, nearly three decades later, it continues to intrigue visitors to Napa Valley today—even if they can only see it from afar. Known as one of the most exclusive wineries in wine country, Opus One was originally open by invitation only and now operates on a very strict and limited by-appointment policy. Just guests with a reservation can get through the gates, and its mystique makes it that much more alluring.

Opus One is a blend of old world and new. It was founded as a partnership between two of wine’s greatest icons—France’s Baron Phillips de Rothschild and California’s Robert Mondavi—and the winery’s neoclassical architecture and design by architect Scott Johnson, of Johnson, Fain & Pereira, reflects this merging of cultures.

Perfectly manicured green berms grass embankments and simple limestone colonnades are inspired by the classic French chateau. They’re in stark contrast with a circular, industrial structure that rises out from the limestone like a tower and has French and American flags hanging from it. The exterior leads to a much more embellished interior, featuring American oak and California redwood, a spiral staircase, a grand barrel room, and an eclectic mix of antique and modern furnishings. The winery’s founding goal was to produce just one wine of the highest quality, a Bordeaux-style blend of mostly cabernet sauvignon.

“This design embodies the vision of Opus One the wine, a combination of traditional practices and contemporary thinking,” Christopher Barefoot, Opus One vice president of communications and guest relations, writes in an email. “Following its completion, wineries that would follow sought out leading architects and historical references that befitted each of the new winery’s styles. A simple barn would no longer do.”

For the last few years, the winery has been undergoing a series of renovations, and now features a dedicated tasting space for the first time. “Starting in early , visitors will be greeted in the main rotunda and be led to the veranda and new Partners’ Room, housed in a crystal-clear glass room overlooking our estate vineyards,” Barefoot writes. The furnishings will represent a blend of eras, from midcentury to today. The winery re-hired the same artist who made the original tables and chairs previously used for tastings—the simple furnishings looked out at the Grand Chai barrel room, containing roughly , French oak barrels of wine—to design chandeliers for the Partners’ Room.

“This new space will allow for private tastings and seated, hosted tastings in an elegant lounge-style space, much like your own living room might be,” says Barefoot. “The view of the valley is exceptional and truly one of a kind.”

Ashes & Diamonds

In , a new winery opened up in Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll District, just north of the city of Napa on Highway . It looked completely different from any of the hundreds of wineries in Napa Valley, and yet its architecture struck a familiar chord, going back years.

Ashes & Diamonds consists of two minimalist structures from Los Angeles-based architect Barbara Bestor known for her work with Beats by Dre HQ and BODE Palm Springs. The winery production facility is a stark white modular building with Albert Frey-inspired porthole windows. The tasting room is also boxy and white, except for a giant, bright yellow door around the corner, a popular background on the winery’s many tagged posts. Plus, it has sliding glass doors and a funky, zig-zag roof a la Donald Wexler.

These overt midcentury modern architectural tributes align with the style of Ashes & Diamonds wines. They harken back to the earlier days of Napa’s industry, when the wines were more moderate in alcohol, and therefore believed by many to be more approachable and food-friendly.

“It made perfect sense to have fresh, classic California wines enjoyed in classic California design and architecture,” says Ashes & Diamonds proprietor Kashy Khaledi. “It was a revolutionary time. To think that Californians Ray and Charles Eames, Albert Frey, and Donald Wexler were changing the face of architecture all while in Napa Valley, a game-changing winery like Robert Mondavi was being built is mind boggling. There was an unbridled sense of possibility and optimism that was the engine for innovation in that era.”

The interior of the tasting room looks like a hip, s party pad straight out of an episode of Mad Men. It’s bright, filled with natural light and pops of color—purple, green, and more of the Shasta daisy yellow—warm textures, like Douglas fir wall panels, and midcentury furnishings, including Platner armchairs and a Jean Prouvé dining table. Acoustic ceiling panels fill the room with exotica music from the genre’s greats, like Martin Denny and Les Baxter.

“It’s an attempt at the postcard fantasy of the California dream, a look at lightness and simplicity in a confusing and dark time,” says Khaledi.

Artesa

Artesa Winery is a master of the surprise factor. It’s not until visitors pull into the parking lot and walk up several sets of stairs that this geometric, avant-garde winery suddenly and dramatically rises out of a hillside.

The Codorníu Raventós family—owners of the oldest wine-growing business in Spain, dating back to , as well as eight other wineries throughout the country—hired notable Barcelona architect Domingo Triay to design their first and only winery in the U.S. Built in , the building seamlessly blends into the surrounding natural landscape. With the exception of the entrance and a V-shaped corner of windows, its facade is completely cloaked in native grasses.

At the top of the stairs, two narrow walkways placed over a trio of massive fountains create the feeling of walking on water. It’s here that most stop to snap a photo of Artesa’s iconic entrance sculpture: The copper abstract grapevine by artist Marcel Martí ascends from the water against a panorama of Napa’s Carneros region. Art is a major fixture of the estate’s design—Artesa has worked with several local artists to create sculptures and fine art pieces displayed throughout the property.

“The Codorníu Raventós family is historically passionate about art, craft, and natural preservation, so when they set out to create their first winery outside of Spain, they sought to preserve the magical landscape that lured them here,” says Susan Sueiro, president of Artesa.

In , Artesa completed a renovation of its interior tasting room. Dubbed the Grand Salon, the bright white room was designed to echo the luxurious Mediterranean waterfront. Its centerpiece is a large, circular bar, where guests can partake in a Spanish-style wine and pintxos pairings. Inspired by a tapas bar, the bar features encaustic tiles painted with pigmented hot wax that were custom made in Barcelona to incorporate Artesa’s logo in a geometric pattern.

Designed by Signum Architecture the genius local firm behind other wine country stunners like Cade, Progeny, and Odette, the salon was awarded the Design Award from the American Institute of Architects.

Hamel Family Wines

Architect Doug Thornley from Gould Evans the firm also designed MacRostie Winery and Cuvaison Vineyards found inspiration for the Hamel Family Wines estate in Hamel’s organically farmed vineyards, the magnificent Sonoma Mountain, and the surrounding Sonoma Valley landscape—all of which you can see through an -foot, slanted glass wall at the front of the light-filled Estate House.

Thornley used neutral and natural materials like walnut, travertine, and basalt on both the exterior and minimalist interiors. As guests walk through the estate, they’ll find themselves weaving in and out of indoor and outdoor tasting spaces the latter is dotted with -year-old olive trees. Behind a pair of heavy, custom-built barn doors, natural light shines through a narrow and continuous set of windows that meet the ceiling in a chic, yet cozy private library that hosts reserve tastings.

“We didn’t want to create a space that looked like it was picked up and dropped without any regard to the natural environment that it was to live in,” says George Hamel III, managing director of Hamel Family Wines. “Instead, we looked to the property for inspiration for our material and color palette.”

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