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Portfolio: Project Details

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Cave Entry and Shade Structure
Napa, CA
Nestled into the hillside of Northern California’s Napa Valley wine region, at the base of a craggy mountain range from which it draws its name, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is one of the premier winemakers in California. The Winery consists of an assortment of buildings, constructed at various times, and in a variety of styles, which scatter the hillside of the fifty-plus acres property. The main winery building, a crescent shaped structure with earth-toned stucco walls, battered flagstone base, and a slate tile roof, wraps around the base of an oak-laden hillside.

The Cave Entryway was designed in response to the need to provide a grand entrance promenade at the gateway to a complex of manmade caverns stretching deep into the hillside. The caverns serve as a natural cold storage facility for thousands of oak barrels, containing aging wine, as well as a series of subterranean rooms for entertaining guests and clients.

Stag’s Leap called upon us to work with renowned eco-architect Javier Barba to design and execute a grand, yet contextually and environmentally sensitive entrance to their cave system. They emphasized that they wanted a solution that integrated with both the landscape and the existing main winery building, and one that would be intriguing to visitors touring the popular winery.

The solution arrived at was a colonnade consisting of a series of finger-like, pre-cast concrete bents, which reach out of the base of the hillside, creating a path and breezeway through which one engages the caverns. Each of these self-supporting structural members is fourteen feet high and connected to one another via welded pre-cast concrete slabs, which act as both a roof and planting beds for native plants. The excavated hillside, left exposed, is held back with a woven copper mesh, and secured by steel rock anchors, driven fifteen to twenty-five feet into the bedrock. The finish material of the structure consists of a spray-applied mixture of cement and earth.

The Shade Structure, which is adjacent to the main winery building and the Wine Cave Entryway, arose from the necessity to provide a shaded, ventilated and screened enclosure around a cluster of fermentation tanks, as well as to obscure the view of the unsightly tanks from visitors who toured the winery. For this project, we designed a system of operable aluminum louvers and steel gratings, supported by a welded tube steel superstructure and painted to match the earth-toned winery building. The result is a low impact design which is aesthetically pleasing, and compliments the existing facility.

Sustainable Design Measures The structure was integrated into the hillside in such a way as to minimize erosion and stabilize the hillside. We utilized a mixture of cement and earth, PISE (Pneumatically Impacted Stabilized Earth) technology, as a finish system over pre-cast concrete structural members. The cave roof also doubles as a planting bed for native grasses and other drought-tolerant plantings.

We also designed a steel structure with aluminum louvered sunshade to protect wine storage tanks from the sun’s heat without using a refrigeration system.

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