For a while now, wineries have been becoming more than storage units and factories: they embody the spirit of the wine they produce, they display the concept the winery is trying to sell. Wine is more than just a beverage, it's an experience, which is why many wineries are now open to the public for tours and tastings. Keeping that in mind, what needs to be addressed when designing a contemporary winery?
Showcasing: Wineries are usually placed in the middle or next to the vineyards where their grapes come from, which gives a design advantage when it comes to showcasing it to the public. Strategically placed windows and views in tasting rooms and foyers, for example, can help create the illusion of being immersed where it all happens, in the middle of the vineyard, cancelling surrounding visual noises; the visitor doesn't need to see the rough part of wine making, such as loading and unloading of pallets. The concept of "from the field to the table" takes a whole new meaning in a tasting room with the perfect view of acres of vineyards.
Some wineries offer tours of the installations, and as mentioned earlier, by carefully designing spaces you can make sure people only see what's relevant, such as cellars and barrels, or mechanized bottling. To do so, and to avoid contamination of the product, you can design points of view inside the winery; some wineries have catwalks over the cellars and containers (each container depends on the stage of the wine), others place their tasting rooms overhanging in an upper level. People don't need to see administration offices, for instance, as they kill the experience. These controlled view points and routes also help to avoid disturbances in the winery that may interrupt the production process and the workers, and could result in injured guests.
Wine Making: Wineries also have to be functional, as their primary role is to produce wine. There are some things to keep into consideration when designing the spaces where wine is going to be produced and then stored for long periods of time, depending on what kind of wine is being made.
The design needs to keep in mind all the steps of wine making: collection of the grapes (if the winery is in the vineyard), reception and preparation of the grapes, crushing of the grapes, primary fermentation, etc. Every process needs their own separate space and has different temperature and light needs. For example, cellars need to be dark and cool, and keeping them like that in environments suitable for the growth of vineyards (warm weather zones) could be challenging and must be thought thoroughly during the design process.
Light: To keep the wine free of light and sun heat, make sure to minimize the amount of natural light- natural light degrades wine, and the heat coming from the sun also damages it. Opt for diffuse, soft, artificial lighting, coming from controlled directions, that doesn't give out extra heat. Led lights are a good option.
Ventilation: This is also a big aspect to consider in rooms where the wine is fermenting, as it releases highly flammable fumes, which can also be toxic for the workers. Make sure to add ventilation shafts, louvers, or any mechanical ventilation system- you can take advantage of temperature differences to make the heat -and fumes- come up and get out of the building using exhausts, without the need of adding fans and using less energy.
Heat: A good way to keep your winery cool, is to half-bury the building- that way you'll be taking advantage of the earth's natural cooling properties and will avoid the radiant heat that may come from the walls which absorb heat during the day. Other than controlling the amount of sun heat coming from outside, you need to think of the heat produced by the fermentation process, and other processes inside the winery. Besides using a ventilation system to take out the heat that originates inside the building, you could opt for bringing cool air from outside, using a ground-coupler heat exchange system, which takes advantage of the earth's constant underground temperature to deliver cool air into the building. Of course, insulation is key for any of the cooling and ventilating systems to work.
Other things to consider: Secondary parts of the building such as administrative offices, facilities for the grape pickers (if the building is in the vineyard), resting places for the workers involved in the process of wine making, must be taken into consideration too. It's advisable that both aspects of the winery are kept separate from each other, and connected by one controlled space, to avoid contamination or accidents- wine production depends a lot on a perfectly balanced environment. This connection can, and should, be designed beforehand- it could even act as an architectural space organizer element.
What are your opinions on contemporary wineries? What are other design aspects to keep in mind for this kind of building? Share your thoughts.