Fall has officially arrived in the U.S., and for much of the country that means leaf peeping, cool nights, and crisp mornings. It’s also peak grape harvest season at U.S. wineries—and a perfect time to visit a vintner.
From the Russian River to the Texas Hill Country, vineyards are bustling from late August to early November as grapes are picked, sorted, and crushed. This is the Super Bowl of wine production, the time when winemakers assess the merits of the last 12 months of hard work.
And nothing goes better with a glass of Cabernet than a bit of architecture. Until the last few decades, wineries—especially in the United States—were purely functional sites. Today, though, profitable direct-to-consumer marketing and the popularization of wine tasting rooms have resulted in a winery building boom.
Forget the bland industrial wine facilities of yesterday and say hello to 12 high-design wineries that will please any architecture lover this autumn.
Know of one we missed? Tell us in the comments.
Dominus Estate in Napa Valley, California
Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and completed in 1997, the 124-acre Dominus Estate marked one of the first collaborations between a winery and a major architecture firm. It was also Herzog and de Meuron’s first project outside of Europe. Like much of the firm’s work, the design emphasizes natural materials; like a facade made of gabions filled with basalt rocks from a nearby canyon.
Some of the gabion screens are packed tightly with small stones while others use loosely organized larger rocks; all regulate the building’s temperature by both insulating it and allowing it to “breathe.” The rock also creates interesting light patterns as the sun moves throughout the day, and the long and flat design lets the surrounding vineyard take center stage.
William Selyem Winery in the Russian River Valley, California
When it was constructed in 2013, Williams Selyem Winery was one of the few new wineries constructed in Sonoma County in nearly a decade. Venezuelan design architect Alex Ceppi of D.arc Group in New York was the lead designer, and the striking building uses a cantilevered wood and barrel-vaulted structure.
The sides of the building are made from local redwood to help create the effect that the structure is a modern, deconstructed barn. And while the imposing structure stands out, more than 75 percent of it is actually tucked into the steep hillside.
L’Angolo Estate in Newberg, Oregon
Designed by Portland-based Lever Architecture, the tasting room at L’Angolo Estate uses simple and clean lines to mimic the winery’s minimalist approach to wine-making. The architects employed walls of glass and a soaring one-planed roof whose overhangs extend in the front and back to reflect Oregon’s soil, climate, and general terrain.
A simple wood frame and a plain interior characterized by polished concrete floors, beamed and vaulted ceilings, and contemporary furnishings keep the focus outward, while sliding glass doors usher the outdoors in. In addition to the main roof plane, a shorter one that appears tucked under the larger one slopes in the opposite direction, creating cantilevers that provide shade and coverings for the terrace, which includes an outdoor fireplace.
Quintessa Estate in Napa Valley, California
Architecture firm Walker-Warner designed a sloping arc building for Quintessa Estate in Napa for two reasons: The winery uses a gravity flow system to process grapes and the designers also wanted the building to blend in with its natural environment. Form and function combine in this stunning winery, which also features 17,000-square-feet of caves.
The firm also created three all-weather pavilions that allow guests to not only learn about various vintages but also take in the surrounding 280-acre estate. Constructed from industrial materials that are meant to age naturally, the pavilions offer the protection of a built structure while also framing the bucolic views.
Law Estate Wines in Paso Robles, California
Designed by San Francisco-based firm BAR Architects, the Law Winery uses steel, concrete, and timber to create an open and dramatic tasting room in Paso Robles. The facility's look and feel are defined by a massive wall of wreathing steel, dramatic sloped roofs, and ample reinforced concrete.
Sustainable features, however, are hidden in plain sight: Landscaped plants were selected for their low-water needs while the roofs harvest rainwater and—thanks to solar panels—electricity as well.
Saffron Fields Winery in the Willamette Valley, Oregon
Designed by architect Richard Shugar of 2Form Architecture, this tasting room in Oregon was completed in 2013. Originally on the site of a dairy farm, the winery’s new building uses reclaimed materials from the old barn and sits on a hill with panoramic views.
A small patio cantilevers over a pond that laps against the south side of the building, and guests can enjoy wine on the expansive patio. Sloping roof planes extend from the building and also allow rainwater runoff to be collected for irrigation and to fill up the adjacent pond.
Merus Winery in St. Helena, California
This restored barn may house top-notch wine, but architecture-lovers will also appreciate the design of both the main building and the cavernous tunnels underground. Netherlands-based Uxus Design created the tasting areas by balancing the old with the new and emphasizing the power of lighting.
Visitors can expect materials like black granite, lacquered surfaces, and plenty of wood to create a rich and luxurious atmosphere. The cave area also boasts a blackboard to display winemaker notes and Tom Dixon lamps to add flair to the space.
Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas
Forty-six acres of vineyards surround this winery near Stonewall, and the 10,000-square-foot building is a reproduction of a late 19th-century German stone barn. This style is common in Texas Hill Country, and since opening the popular winery has expanded twice to accommodate 74 tanks and over 2,000 barrels.
Tin ceilings, wood accents, and a neutral palate keep the focus on the wine production, and large windows let visitors see into barrels aging in the surrounding caves.
Ovid Vineyard in Napa Valley, California
Ovid Estate Winery may not be the largest winery in Napa—it only produces around 3,000 cases each year—but it shines when it comes to design and style. Architect Howard J. Backen designed a low-profile, airy tasting room that sits on a hill with views for miles and plenty of indoor-outdoor space.
Down below, a horseshoe cave system contains both 14’ and 26’ wide caves full of barrels. But the real highlight is the simple and Instagram-worthy lighting that feels both intimate and high-end. Ovid Napa Valley is also a sustainable wine estate that is powered by solar, organically farmed, and certified green.
Clos Pegase Winery in Calistoga, California
The product of a 1984 architectural competition overseen by the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Clos Pegase Winery looks nothing like the wineries you’re used to. Designed by the famed American architect Michael Graves, the structure was inspired by the agrarian buildings of southern Europe.
The building boasts a large portico with grandiose columns and an open roof that’s designed to integrate the winery with its environment. A cypress-lined courtyard mimics the formal structure of a European garden and at night strings of lights add a bit of whimsy.
Opus One Winery in Napa Valley, California
Whether in reference to the iconic building or to the world-famous wine, the Opus One winery in Napa Valley makes a statement. Designed by Scott Johnson of Johnson, Fain & Pereira in 1991, the building was meant to mirror the French-California partnership of the winery’s founders—Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi.
Much of the winery is hidden under a berm so that only part of its 60,000 square feet is visible, and the building balances the heritage of a French chateaux with the modern styling of contemporary California. Johnson referred to his design as “inverted, like a jewel box,” and the stone colonade front stands out as one of the first high-design, high-impact wine buildings.
Odette Estate Winery in Napa, California
Designed by Signum Architecture in 2014, Odette Estate Winery focuses on green materials as a compliment to the winery’s sustainable wine production. Most of the structure is hidden from view, as the designers tucked the building into a hillside adjacent to the vineyard.
A green roof sits on top of the building—in addition to three strips of solar panels—which allow the structure to meld further into the hillside. The winery also recently opened up a new, chic tasting lounge.