We have great deal of respect for the winemakers and wineries for which we have provided architectural services over the past 20 years. It is our means of contributing to the identity and success of the Oregon wine landscape.

Winery architecture is a great interest and passion for Waterleaf. It touches upon design sensitivity and experience that spans two poles of architectural practice. One of these is the attention to flow, function, and the resulting composition of crush pad, fermentation, barrel rooms, and tasting rooms. Within this sphere are considerations for equipment, their footprint and clearances. This is how the winery works. The other is aesthetics - how the experience of the building feels for the visitor as they explore and enjoy the architecture and surrounding land. Sun, shade, materials, space, lighting, texture, aroma, and processional and arrival space: all create a memorable experience for those visiting a winery and leaving a lasting impression of community and place.

Creative spark, inspiring innovation

Wineries are a blend of three major elements:  wine making, learning, and community. While the principle focus of a winery is to make wine, wineries are often the center of the exchange of idea, from experienced wine makers to aspiring interns. As much as wineries are about production, wineries are centers for events, from wine industry meetings, visitors sampling wines, community meetings, and celebrating life’s events.

Building a winery is an exciting process exploring the evolution of ideas, working them into a functional and aesthetically pleasing winery. Partner Stephen Lapp is Waterleaf’s winery architecture expert and brings experience gained through the successful completion of 14 winery projects throughout the Pacific Northwest. His approach addresses the partnership of winery facilities with their community by understanding the critical importance of integrating landscape planning, building programming, and visual design elements during the planning and design process. 

Production + The Public

Wineries have an inherent question regarding how to organize production space in a way that is functional, ergonomic and safe, while at the same time flexible. Within the matrix of interior and exterior spaces is the overlay of how the public will come and go, taste the wine, listen to the passion of the wine maker, take in the unique aroma of the barrel room, all without interfering with production or jeopardizing individual safety. Successful wineries do both and do it within an inspiring architectural and environmental landscape.

The Number of Levels Question

Having designed both gravity flow wineries and single-level wineries, we understand the design opportunities and challenges presented by the single and multiple level winery. The first and foremost criteria is a solid understanding of the desired production process or “flow.” The building and site design should encompass and facilitate this flow rather than fight it. The best wineries successfully integrate their winemaking philosophy with the topography and the building, enhancing both. Some gravity winery facilities utilize a level at each gravity production step, while others use level changes only at certain production steps, incorporating equipment, forklifts or pumps to ‘create gravity’ as needed.  Wine-making opinions vary, and it is important for the team to approach the project with an open mind, listening and engaging in dialogue in order to understand the key goals for winemaker, educator, and owner, while always keeping in mind construction cost and long term flexibility.

Watching the current trends and how has design evolved

The process of making wine is thousands of years old. Designing for this craft revolves around the environment where the winery is located and the attitudes, needs, and desires of the winemaker. That is what drives the wine production design. How the public interacts with the experience has evolved. We are designing more tasting rooms to be a place where people sit and enjoy the wine in an immersive environment; where they can taste the wine and take in expansive views of the gardens, vineyard, valley, and forest.

Architecture for wineries includes designing for the experience holistically. Paying attention to the trends and how these trends affect the project will help to inform the design. It expresses how the building takes advantage of the site, how people experience the building, and the importance of Northwest wine.

We are proud to be part of an industry that represents the uniqueness of the Northwest. We understand the importance of the industry in the community and the land. This invokes the sense of place in our designs.