Text Size:-+
08.04.2004

Architecture and Wine: Both Too Expensive


I'm a huge fan of modern architecture, even at its most extravagant, perhaps best embodied by the warped sheet metal excesses of architect Frank Gehry. I think the stuff is gorgeous, inspiring, and way, way too expensive.

It's incredible to me how much people end up paying for these buildings, no matter how beautiful they are. It's sort of like paying a few hundred dollars for a bottle of wine. Yes you might enjoy it, but did you enjoy it ten times more than that $30 bottle? I'd bet not.

In an unfortunate collision of these two worlds, it has recently been announced that Kathryn Hall vineyards has commissioned none other than the esteemed Mr. Gehry to develop a new visitors center on their winemaking property, just off of Highway 29 in Napa, former site of Edgewood Vineyards.

So in a few years we will have a gorgeous, nay, stunning, piece of work in The Valley, an ode to the landscape wrought in stucco, glass, and wood (no rolling steel sheets on this one). We will also have lots more traffic on the already beleaguered Highway 29, and Kathryn will have to support the overhead of the new facility, which means, of course, more expensive wine.

If the American wine industry needs to know why wine sales don't approach that of France or elsewhere in Europe they need look no further than this new building. Like most museums with their unspoken "look-but-don't-touch-this-painting-is-more-valuable-than-your-life" atmospheres, efforts like this new facility may create aesthetic enjoyment but ultimately perpetuate the upper-class elitism that keeps wine prices high and the masses flocking to Trader Joes for swill in a bottle.

I'll be there on opening day to bask in the modernist glory of the new Kathryn Hall winery, but you won't find me buying many bottles of wine, even if they are signed by Frank Gehry.

Comments (4)

enoch choi wrote:
08.04.04 at 2:43 PM

i think it'll be wonderful to have a building by Gehry there, albeit i probably won't try Hall wine because of it...

HugeJ wrote:
08.05.04 at 3:34 PM

What do you mean we don't need more $100+ bottles of wine? The world cries out for them like a babe yearning for mother's milk! By what other standard can we measure ourselves as indiscriminate consumers of a luxury good?

Sarcasm aside, nicely said.

/huge

howard brunswick wrote:
12.28.04 at 3:46 PM

frank gehry is not a modern architect. let's get that straight. i suggest if you are going to make an analogy you should at least use the proper nomenclature. however, as much as i might agree with you about gehry's work, you should not underestimate the value of a well designed building or a great bottle of wine. they are just so few and far between that most do not get to experience one. and yes, they are worth it.

Alder wrote:
12.28.04 at 4:45 PM

Perhaps I should have made the disclaimer that I'm not an academic, and like most people, I couldn't tell you the stylistic differences between rococco and art deco if my life depended on it. Forgive me if I use "modern" incorrectly and lump people like Gehry and Koolhaas into a category that has personal significance rather than actual significance.

I do not underestimate the value of a well designed building nor a great bottle of wine, I merely object to the sometimes astronomical prices associated with them. Gehry is famous for going tens of millions of dollars over budget in the pursuit of aesthetics which, no matter how much I might enjoy, begs the question of their worth. Could we not have equally as impressive buildings and equally impressive wines for less cost?

See you at the opening !!

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Putting a Cork in Your Thanksgiving Wine Anxiety Plumbing the Depths of Portugal: A Tasting Journey Vinography Images: Rain at Last The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries? Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand Vinography Images: Tendrils Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.