FORM + FERMENTATION The Architecture of Wineries


By Sally Anne Smith, AIA

The architecture of a winery is usually the visual expression of the vintners philosophy of wine. The following wineries incorporate some striking architecture as well as having a history of having their wines compete in theJudgement of ParisWine Tasting in 1976. 


San Francisco businessman, Alfred Tubbs, wanted a first class winery inspired by the great French wineries. In 1882 he planted his vineyard with cuttings from some of France’s finest vineyards. After planting the vineyards, Mr. Tubbs embarked on building the Chateau, which is based on the legendary Bordeaux’s Chateau Lafite.

Mr. Tubbs hired a French architect and French masons to build the Chateau which is built of imported European stone and has forty two inch thick walls. Over the years, the chateau has aged beautifully, becoming the great matriarch of the Napa Valley wineries. The tasting rooms are intimate, and filled with the rich history of the winery and how it won the Paris Wine Tasting Competition.  Below, a photo of the winery.


Calistoga, Napa Valley
















FREEMARK ABBY St. Helena, Napa Valley

St. Helena, Napa Val

 Freemark Abby was founded by Josephine Marlin Tychsom, one of the first women on record to grow wine. Later the winery was sold to her good friend, Antonio Forni, in 1899, who constructed the stone winery, made of hand-strewn stones from nearby Glass Mountain. The winery structure was originally designed to produce thirty thousand gallons of wine. Today it is used for barrel storage. The tasting room was recently remodeled and features an extensive library collection of Cabernets. 






Napa Valley

 Clos Du Val Winery was founded over 40 years ago by John Goblet and Bernard Portet who were both born into the French wine making business. Their wines are created on the honored principles of individuality and independence, or what they like to call “Vindepence”. The vine covered concrete walls and sweeping roof lines brings an understated elegance to the winery’s architecture. There are picnic areas set about in manicured gardens and under old oak trees. A spacious tasting room that was part of the wine cellar, has been made over recently in the “Provençal” style. 



RIDGE WINERY, Lytton Springs, Sonoma County

  RIDGE  WINERY respects the natural process that transforms fresh grapes into wine. By creating wine with minimal intervention, they produce high quality wines that are environmentally and socially responsible. This eco-sustainable winery boasts a light and spacious tasting room and a winery building built of vineyard clay over straw bale construction and powered by solar photovoltaic panels. Under perforated panel trellises shading the south side of the building, there is outdoor patio seating that overlook their vineyards. 









HEITZ CELLARS St. Helena, Napa Valley

St. Helena, Napa Valley


The Heitz Family prides themselves in creating classic & elegant wines that celebrate the best of times in life. In 2002 they built an inviting new tasting and sales room in among their vineyards. The stone and mahogany building was designed by architects Ronn & Hannah Nunn and features an intimate inglenook inspired fireplace that reflects their fine wines and graceful hospitality.  







Written by Sally Anne Smith, AIA of Smith Architectural Studios in Carmel Highlands, California 

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