A KPMB-designed winery takes its cues from the earth
Abby Bussel -- Interior Design, 1/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
No matter how well respected the wine label, not having a winery for visitors to tour is a major marketing liability. But Vincor International, owner of Jackson-Triggs Vintners, knew that the typical French-château style would hardly be appropriate for a 26-acre vineyard in Ontario—a concept grasped immediately by Toronto's Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects. "Terroir is a French term that, when applied to wine, refers to every grape being influenced by the soil in which it grows. That's how the building was conceived," says KPMB partner Marianne McKenna.
The Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery, completed in two and a half years, is a straightforward rather than romanticized response to the site and the wine-making process. The most obvious connection between the 47,000-square-foot building and its environs is the great hall, just within the main entrance. "There's a realization as you walk in that the wine is the hero, not the architecture," McKenna says. Enormous barnlike doors of metal and glass slide open directly onto the vineyards, creating both a visual connection and a sensory one as breezes fill the space with the aroma of growing grapes. Here and throughout the winery, materials and finishes bring nature in. KPMB used unstained woods and unpainted metal; the white oak and Algonquin stone are indigenous to the region.
Fermentation tanks and barrel cellars, which account for the majority of the building, utilize energy-efficient processes. The tanks transport juices via gravity into a finishing cellar located one level below. The barrel cellar, situated by the finishing cellar, is intentionally below-grade to take advantage of the natural heat-sink effect, creating an ideal environment for aging. The concrete-vaulted space also accommodates tastings and dinners. "When you experience the lighting, smells, and natural materials in the barrel vault, you're definitely in what feels like a show cellar," says McKenna. "But you're surrounded by real barrels of wine."