After pining over beautiful, but alas, fictional wine labels, we turn our attention to some actual architectural stunners you’ll find around the wine world. From monstrous cellars to postmodern wineries, we survey some our favorite examples of truly stunning architecture. And wine angels. One cannot overlook the wine angels!
Many of the projects below were designed by famous architects, including all of the Spanish wineries we highlighted. Others, like the pair of Moldovan wine cellars, show up on account of their scale — not-so-miniature subterranean wine cities.
Milestii Mici’s Wine Cellar
Certified by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the world’s largest wine cellar (now at over 2 million bottles), you need a car to get around the 120 miles of underground tunnels in this Moldovan ‘wine city.’ Established in 1969, the cellar repurposed a massive, ancient tunnel complex, which had been carved out of soft limestone centuries earlier.
Cricova’s Wine Cellar
Another massive Moldovan wine cellar, Cricova boasts about half the tunnel milage of its big brother. Cricova’s claim to fame is more than just size. As per Wikipedia: “Legend has it that in 1966 astronaut Yuri Gagarin entered the cellars, re-emerging (with assistance) two days later. Russian president Vladimir Putin celebrated his 50th birthday there.”
Queens Lane Wine Silo & Shop
Carney Logan Burke Architects designed this stunner of an aboveground wine cellar in Jackson, Wyoming. Located on a floodplain, the architects turned to that familiar Midwestern site – the silo: “The main residence of log, stone, and timber draws its inspiration from early twentieth century National Parks lodge architecture, whereas the two additional buildings on the property serve as a counterpoint to traditional notions of the western log structure…Borrowing from agrarian structures, the design team arrived at the silo form as an alternative, elevated storage system. In order to gracefully weather and blend in with the existing buildings and landscape the structure is clad in oxidized steel plates. The interior, inspired by a wine cask, is characterized by reclaimed fir woodwork and a spiral staircase that accesses carefully displayed wine bottles organized around the silo’s perimeter.”
Château Lafite Rothschild’s Wine Cellar (Ricardo Bofill)
Many people refer to wine cellars as a winery’s “trophy room,” which is why so many wineries invest so much money in them. As one of us here at VinePair can personally attest, it’s fair to say the investments paid off in the case of the awe-inspiring cellar at Château Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux.
Rocca di Frassinello (Renzo Piano)
Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano has designed countless famous buildings such as the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Shard in London, and The New York Times Building in Manhattan. While the structure at Rocca di Frassinello is impressive from the outside, we were particularly fond of the barrique aging room.
Bodegas Portia (Norman Foster)
Lord Norman Foster, another Pritzker Prize-winning architect, designed Bodegas Portia, located in Ribera del Duero, Spain. The unique design reflects the winemaking process, according to the architect’s firm: “The project presented the opportunity to look afresh at the winery as a building type, using the topography of the site to aid the winemaking process, and to create the optimum working conditions, while reducing the building’s energy demands and its impact on the landscape. The building’s trefoil plan expresses the three main stages of production: fermentation in steel vats; aging in oak barrels; and maturation in bottles; at its core is an operations hub, from which all stages of the production process can be controlled.”
Marqués de Riscal (Frank Gehry)
Frank Gehry, yes…another Pritzker Prize-winning architect, designed the funky winery you see below. His works, including the world famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, are known for their undulating lines, which are clearly present at Marqués de Riscal.
Bodegas Ysios (Santiago Calatrava)
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is known around the world for his impressive civic projects like the Puente del Alamillo built for Expo ’92 In Seville Spain and the sadly scaled back World Trade Center Transportation Hub. According to arcspace, the winery at Bodegas Ysios is “conceived as an element completely integrated in the surrounding landscape and, at the same time, as an autonomous site-specific sculpture.” We think that translates as beautiful.
Bodegas Darien (Jesús Marino Pascual)
This stunning white concrete and glass winery was designed to blend into the local environment (a common theme). It’s located in Logroño, which is in La Rioja, Spain.
Bodegas Protos (Richard Rogers)
The final Spanish winery on our list offers up a fascinating visual contrast. Designed by architect Richard Rogers — who worked on the design of the Pompidou Center with the aforementioned Renzo Piano — “[the] aspiration of the client’s brief was to create a building that would be emblematic and respond to its context, particularly when viewed from the castle.”
The Wine Towers Of Radisson Blu’s Airport Hotels
Radisson Blu (which you might have known until recently as Radisson SAS) is a chain of upscale hotels, mostly found in Europe and Asia. While we’re not exactly fond of airport hotels, the locations that the chain operates at London’s Stansted Airport and the Zurich Airport feature ‘wine towers,’ which might convince us to make a pit stop. The ‘tower’ in London tops out just over 40 feet, while the one in Zurich clears 50 feet. Head over to YouTube to watch the angels in action. If you’d like to enjoy a wine tower at a restaurant outside of an airport, Aureole Las Vegas, at the Mandalay Bay, features a 4 story wine tower…and yes, wine angels!
London Stansted Airport Hotel
Zurich Airport Hotel
The Foucault Pendulum at Stag’s Leap Cellars
Foucault’s Pendulum, named after the designer of the original one, French physicist Léon Foucault, proves that the Earth rotates. You can head over to Wikipedia for an explanation of how that works. Stag’s Leap Cellars, famous for placing first in the 1976 Judgment of Paris, features the pendulum you see below in the caves where it ages its wines.
The Wine Cellar at The Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo
No single picture does the Wine Cellar at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo justice, so we went with a video. With multiple restaurants including the Michelin 3-starred Louis XV and single-starred Le Grill, you’d expect a serious wine collection. And that’s what you’ll find. We’ll let the hotel boast a bit: “Hollowed out of the rock, the wine cellars at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo represent one of the most extraordinary places in the Monte-Carlo SBM Resort. In the cool stillness lie hundreds of thousands of bottles evoking landscapes, Châteaux and estates, both French and foreign (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne…), going by the name of Lafite Rothschild, Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Yquem, Romanée-Conti, Dom Pérignon and Cristal Roederer to name a few. The head cellarman is backed by a team of 10 people who have all adopted the house philosophy: “to respect age-old expertise, never to lose sight of the link between the wine cellar and the restaurants, and to remember that the heritage they protect is the legacy of previous generations and a foundation for those to come.”
Header image via Shutterstock.com