Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
The winery is situated on an exceptional location in Napa Valley. Our client, the renowned Bordeaux wine producer, Christian Moeuix, recognized the potential of this terroir for producing quality grapes in comparison to numerous other vineyards. Early obsidian finds reveal that the vineyard was once an Indian settlement. Moreover, from the vineyard known as Napanook, wines of exceptional quality had already been produced in the mid 20th century. After ten years of replanting, Dominus reached a level of quality which reflected the full potential of the land. Thus, in 1995 Moueix and his wife, Cherise, commissioned Herzog & de Meuron to build a winery.
The building is divided into three functional units: the tank room with huge chrome tanks for the first stage of fermentation, the Barrique cellar where the wine matures in oak vats for two years, and the storeroom where the wine is bottled, packed in wooden cases, and stored until it is sold. We designed to house these three functional units in a linear building some 100m / 333ft long, 25m / 82ft wide, and 9m / 30ft high. The building bridges the main axis, the main path of the winery, and is thus in the midst of the vineyards. Vines in California can grow to a height well over 2m / 6ft, such that the building is completely integrated into the linear, geometric texture of the vineyard.
We have separated the functional units on the ground floor with covered passageways in-between. The main path of the vineyard passes through the largest of these. This large covered space serves as an open, public reception area, where paths, linking up all the important parts of the winery, intersect. This area accesses the Barrique cellar, the degustation room, the offices and roof terraces, the cellar man’s rooms, and the huge doors to the tank room. Guests are received in the degustation room to taste the wine. A glass wall provides a view of the entire cellar filled with wooden vats. The last unit, the storeroom, where the cases of wine are stored, lies to the south.
The climate in Napa Valley is extreme: very hot by day, very cold at night. We wanted to design a structure that would be able to take advantage of these conditions. In the United States air conditioning is automatically installed to maintain even room temperatures. Architectural strategies which activate the walls in order to regulate the temperatures are unknown.
In front of the façades, we placed gabions, a device used in river engineering, that is, wire containers filled with stones. Added to the walls, they form an inert mass that insulates the rooms against heat by day and cold at night. We chose local basalt that ranges from dark green to black and blends in beautifully with the landscape. The gabions are filled more or less densely as needed so that parts of the walls are very impenetrable while others allow the passage of light: natural light comes into the rooms during the day and artificial light seeps through the stones at night. You could describe our use of the gabions as kind of stone wickerwork with varying degrees of transparency, more like skin than like traditional masonry.
We built a first mock-up to scale in Basel to test the quality of varying transparencies as well as the technical feasibility of the structure. A second mock-up was built at full height of nine meters on the site in Yountville. These full-scale tests were necessary in order to become familiar with this new architectural element even if it is nothing but a wall of stones.
Herzog & de Meuron, 1997
Site plan. The grounds before construction. Aerial view of the winery before construction.
Ground plan of upper floor. Ground plan of first floor. Longitudinal section.
Detail section of wall structure: stone baskets of steel construction. Supporting wall against landslides. Hut made of layered natural stones.
Section model of the access to the winery.
Initial mock-up with baskets in the architects’ yard. Mock-up of the façade on site. Scale of the winery. Natural stones in front of the partially finished façade.
The prefabricated concrete panels are placed with a crane. View of the interior of the concrete core. The entrance to the winery with the steel structure for the baskets. The clients, Cherise and Christian Moueix. The steel structure of the ceiling. Interior work. Roof and support structure for the natural stone façade.
The baskets were woven on site. Access to the partially finished winery. Inspection of a finished façade section. The stones were presorted by hand and filled into the baskets. A worker weaves the baskets with wire. The various stone sizes provide the façade with a lively structure. The tank shimmers through the large stones.
The metal mesh of the winery’s gate changes its transparency with the light. An elegant bridge stretches across a small stream on the access road. The roof with skylight boxes between stones from the façade material. The natural stones allow for plays of light inside the building. The use of a mesh door takes up the subject of transparency. The office installations are realized in glass. The office installations are realized in glass.
The view to the outside is filtered. The fermentation tanks behind the natural stone walls. The first harvest is brought in. Grape containers in the fermentation storage. The shell of the barrel basement. The heart of the house with oak barrels and a tasteful aesthetic. The door to the tasting room outside the barrel storage from inside. Reflection of the landscape in the door to the tasting room.
Making opposites tangible: the heaviness and mass of the stone from the outside.
The immaterial lightness of the light in the reflections inside the winery.
- This project was developed in collaboration with an architect licensed in the state of California acting as the "Architect of Record". Herzog & de Meuron is not licensed to practice architecture in the state of California.
- Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
- General Planning: Wright Contracting, Inc, Santa Rosa, USA
- Construction Management: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
- Construction Management: Valley Architects, San Francisco, USA
- Electrical Engineering : Hansen & Slaughter, Inc., San Rafael, USA
- HVAC Engineering: Larkin & Associates, Sebastopol, USA
- Plumbing Engineering : Larkin & Associates, Sebastopol, USA
- Structural Engineering: Zucco Fagent Associates, Santa Rosa, Califorinia, USA
- Building Data
- Gross floor area (GFA): 44'131 sqft, 4'100 sqm
- Footprint: 36'597 sqft, 3'400 sqm
- Gross volume (GV): 932'308 cbft, 26'400 cbm
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