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05.15.2009

Wine and Architecture

catena.JPGWine and architecture have a long history together. If architecture is frozen music, then wine is liquid weather. Each transmutes something into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. But beyond this metaphorical kinship, wine has often inspired (and funded) the creation of grand architecture. And vice versa.

From the early castles and monasteries to the great estates of the Old World, wineries have long been marked by great edifices. In no small part, this doubtless resulted from the simple realities of economics. Those who could afford to own the land, hire the workers, and produce the wine also had the money to build themselves something grand, and often the class affiliations that all but required it.

Not much has changed about those economics these days, and wineries continue to be excuses for grand exercises of architectural aesthetics and vision in both the New World and the old. From Catena Zapata in Argentina (shown in the photo above) to the brand new HALL winery designed by Frank Gehry that is currently under construction in Napa, wine tasting in certain places has become as much an architectural experience as an organoleptic one.

The blog Design Craft recently featured a list of Top Ten Architectural Wonders of the Wine World, that highlights some of these endeavors with some very nice photos. I don't necessarily agree with the list. There are a lot of wineries missing, and some that don't belong there, but some of the ones featured are definitely quite exquisite. I've visited several of them myself.

In terms of additions to the list, certainly Catena Zapata belongs on there. I'd add Scott Johnson's Opus One winery in Napa, Santiago Calatrava's Bodega Ysios in Rioja, and Stephen Hall's Loisium winery in Austria, just for starters.

What architectural wonders would you add?

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise 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 Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud