Probably commissioned and built to distract serious oenophiles from the questionable terroir of smog-choked Beijing, the Asterisk winery, restaurant, and wine showroom was designed by the Japanese firm SAKO Architects. A single, five-winged structure houses all of these functions under one aluminum roof, all on a man-made island in the middle of a lake. The 22,000-square-foot complex will be an offshoot of the high-end Napa winemaker formerly known as Sloan, which was purchased in 2011 by a Hong Kong conglomerate looking to bring California wine to Asian consumers. This is far from the world's only high-design winery. Find four more, including examples from starchitects Herzog & de Meuron and Frank Gehry, below.
Photos: Dominus Estate
? Nestled on the exquisite 124-acre Dominus Estate, in the heart of Napa Valley, this elongated winery structure was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron in 1996. The 50,000-square-foot building was the starchitecture duo's first in the U.S., but thanks to Napa Valley permitting, the beautiful building is not open to the public. Remarkably, the architects produced this project for under the allotted $5M budget, using local rock and wire mesh for many of the walls. That mesh allows filtered light into the interior, but, when first completed, also let in snakes, necessitating the addition of a finer mesh around the base of the building.
? Architecture firm Walker-Warner took the sloping arc design of Napa Valley's Quintessa Estate as much from the function—the winery uses a gravity flow system to process grapes—as from the desire to blend the building with its natural environment. The multi-functional structure sits directly in front of the ridge that houses Quintessa's 17,000-square-feet of caves, which house 3,000 bottles at a time. The same firm also designed a residence on the estate for the owners, to serve "as a quiet family retreat as well as a place to entertain up to two hundred guests."
Photos: Starwood Resorts
? The vintners behind Marques de Riscal winery, the oldest vineyard in the Rioja region of Spain, desired something a bit wilder when they went to build a hotel to accompany their estate in 1998. So, naturally, they turned to architect Frank Gehry, fresh off his eye-popping Guggenheim Bilbao. In response, Gehry produced this even crazier, and far more colorful, design for the vineyard. Today, the hotel is operated under the umbrella of Starwood Resorts, which is charging around $430 per night in high season.
Photos: Open Buildings
? A structure of monumental size and form that calls to mind the work of the legendary Louis Kahn, this Argentinian winery was in fact designed by local architects Bórmida & Yanzón. The giant overarching roof provides shade and covers a cavernous storage space, while much of the production space is hidden underground. Nominated for several architecture awards, the O. Fournier Winery opened in 2008.
· Asterisk by SAKO Architects [Contemporist]
· Rutherford winery and vineyard sold for $40 million [Napa Valley Register]
· Dominus Estate [official site]
· Quintessa Estate [Walker | Warner]
· Hotel Marques de Riscal [Starwood Hotels]
· O. Fournier [Open Buildings]