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Winery Wonders of the World

Writer Eve Kahn reports on the best new wine and architecture pairings from Napa Valley to New Zealand.

Weingut Erich & Walter Polz

STYRIA, AUSTRIA | G2PLUS ARCHITECTS
In the 1980s, brothers Erich and Walter Polz converted their family's farm into a winery, focusing their efforts on classic Styrian whites (Welschriesling, Muskateller). Over the years, the Polzes—who have since partnered with their five other siblings and siblings-in-law—increased their property from 10 to 126 acres, and in 2001, they opened a stunning new winery building. Its most striking element is a vitrine created by the Viennese architectural firm G2plus, which designed four other radical wineries in Austria (including Weingut Schilhan, a trapezoidal building nicknamed Crocodile Rock). The architects stacked about a thousand empty bottles on the shelves of the vitrine, which runs across much of the building's facade, separating light and dark green glass into piles that resemble sun-dappled grapevine rows. DETAILS Grassnitzberg 54a, Spielfeld; 011-43-3453-23-01 or polz.co.at.

Quintessa

NAPA VALLEY, UNITED STATES | WALKER WARNER ARCHITECTS
Owners Agustin and Valeria Huneeus create one of Napa's top Cabernet blends through biodynamic farming techniques, dosing their vines with chamomile and valerian and setting planting schedules by the position of the planets. Appropriately, their crescent-shaped stone winery, designed by San Francisco's Walker Warner Architects and open since 2002, appears to hug the earth. DETAILS 1601 Silverado Trail, Rutherford; 707-967-1601 or quintessa.com.

Bodegas Pérez Cruz

MAIPO ALTO VALLEY, CHILE | JOSÉ CRUZ OVALLE
Since its first bottling in 2002, the Pérez Cruz winery, which is perched on a plateau in the Andean foothills of Chile's Maipo Alto Valley, has been making exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon blends by strictly limiting grape yields per acre. Chilean architect José Cruz Ovalle designed the low-slung wood winery building, with wavy laminated-wood porch columns that look like the trunks of grapevines, a counterpoint to the strict geometry of the roof. Inside, visitors to the winery can climb onto a catwalk and run their hands along the smooth surfaces of the barrel-vaulted walls. DETAILS Fundo Liguai de Huelquén, Paine; 011-56-2-824-2405 or perezcruz.com.

Graham Beck Franschhoek Cellar

FRANSCHHOEK, SOUTH AFRICA | JOHAN WESSELS
A charismatic coal tycoon turned boatbuilder, horse breeder and vintner, Graham Beck started growing grapes in 1983 and now runs four farms and two wineries in the Western Cape (he also operates a nature reserve full of springbok, zebra and ostriches). Among his acclaimed bottlings is a brut sparkling wine, which was served at Nelson Mandela's 1994 presidential inauguration. As befits a man with such an outsize entrepreneurial personality, both of Beck's wineries have traffic-stopping polychromatic designs by Johan Wessels, South Africa's go-to winery architect. At Beck's Franschhoek Cellar, now three years old, Wessels installed an antique Moroccan door in the main entryway and striped the tan slate facade with white quartzite, studding the stones with glittery stainless steel buttons. The windowed tasting room—a glass-covered stuccoed cone—overlooks a sculpture park, where twin bronze leopards face off beside reflecting pools. DETAILS R45 Rd., Groot Drakenstein; 011-27-21-874-1258 or grahambeckwines.co.za.

Peregrine Wines

CENTRAL OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND | ARCHITECTURE WORKSHOP
Central Otago on New Zealand's South Island is one of the world's southernmost (and coolest) winemaking regions, but the extra summer sun and dry climate there make up for the brief growing season. In 2003, on a former fine-wool sheep station along a bend in the Kawarau River, Peregrine Wines owner Greg Hay built the winery with a focus on Chardonnay, Riesling and the region's predominant Pinot Noir. Architecture Workshop, a small, up-and-coming firm in Wellington, New Zealand, designed the concrete bunker that houses Peregrine's tasting and production rooms, and topped it with a translucent corrugated-fiberglass wing that fends off both snow and summer heat. The graceful form is meant to evoke Peregrine's namesake bird as well as the threatened Karearea falcon that nests in the river valley. DETAILS Kawarau Gorge Rd., Queenstown; 011-64-3-442-4000 or peregrinewines.co.nz.

López de Heredia Winery

RIOJA, SPAIN | ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS
One of the oldest Rioja wineries still in the original family's hands, 129-year-old López de Heredia preserves the same architectural oddities on its grounds: a windmill, a gingerbreaded observation tower and a cooperage where artisans use archaic tools to make the wine barrels. But for a jolt of 21st-century design, the López de Heredia family commissioned a freestanding tasting room and shop from Zaha Hadid, one of the world's premier architects and a winner of the Pritzker Prize. Iraqi-born and London-based, Hadid is famed for creating cultural landmarks that resemble cantilevered slashes, such as the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and Germany's new Phaeno Science Center. For López de Heredia, Hadid wrapped a carved-wood kiosk—a López de Heredia sales booth at the 1910 World's Fair in Brussels—in sinuous gold-tinted steel. As shiny as a luxury yacht hull, it's shaped like a decanter and furnished with Hadid-designed benches made of wine-colored Corian. DETAILS Avenida Vizcaya, 3, Haro; 011-34-941-310-244 or lopezdeheredia.com.

Eve Kahn writes about architecture and design for the New York Times, I.D. and House Beautiful.

Published March 2006
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