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I have a little tip for great holidays: I rarely choose a place just because I haven’t been there before; instead I normally find a reason or an event to go, so I get the double pleasure of traveling and seeing or doing something I really like. Combining a passion with simply being a tourist makes the trip fun and meaningful at the same time. Psychologists would agree with me when I say that doing meaningful things only is boring, and having fun only is boring as well. One needs a tailor-made combination of both.

So how about starting to surf the net and look for something you will love to see? How about wine architecture? This is something which became big in the last 15 years, more or less, and has produced outstanding buildings all over the world. Famous architects like Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano have done an excellent job at designing new wineries which can now be visited and enjoyed together with a wine tasting tour too.

Canadian architect Frank O.Gehry, designer of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, is behind the highly unusual project of the Marque de Riscal winery, in the Rioja wine route. The winery is the oldest and most traditional of the Rioja, open since 1860 and famous for its pioneering, innovative, non-conformist approach. The explosion of color and shapes created by Gehry creates a movement through the forms which stands out but matches the environment at the same time. The facades of stone and wood windows contrast and dialogue with the traditional buildings of the nineteenth century.

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Santiago Calatrava is the mind behind the Bogeda Ysios, also in the Rjoia Alavesa area. The building is inspired by the shape of oak wine barrels and, with its rolling wooden contours seamlessly integrated into the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria mountains of Spain, is matching the landscape, and autonomous at the same time. The result is spectacular.

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Renzo Piano (author of the Centra Pompidou in Paris, the Shard in London and the New York Times building in New York to name just a few) designed the Rocca di Frassinello Vineyard in Tuscany. The most impressive part of the building is far out of sight, well-hidden in the ground:it’s the astonishing wine cellar, where hundreds of barrique barrels are stored while the wine is aging. Similar to a Roman theatre, the structure consist of stairs leading towards the center “stage” at the bottom of the cellar, a huge room with blank concrete walls and no pillars, stabilized by gigantic concrete beams anchoring in the surrounding hill. On the surface, the big terrace near the thin tower, according to Piano, depicts a flying carpet, which has landed on top of the scenic hills.

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American Architect Scott Johnson (author of the MGM tower in Los Angeles and the Museum Tower in Dallas) designed the Opus One winery in Napa Valley in the 80s, and so started a revolution in the wine industry. “More landscape than architectural statement” was his motto, and this resulted in an elliptical facade emerging from the grass and conveying a sense of quiet grandeur. It’s a low profile mixture of tradition and technology which set the basis of a new style of wine architecture.

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Marco Casamonti, who is author of the Green Energy Labotary in Shanghai, the “Meravigliosa” island in “The World” in Dubai, and more, recently designed the Marchesi Antinory winery in San Casciano Val di Pesa. He managed to combine the skills of Florence artisans with modern technology, sustainability, and above all beauty – the beauty coming from the combination of nature and good design.

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There are many more examples of stunningly designed wineries, for example Ballande et Meneret, by Patrick Baggio and Anne Piechaud, entirely lit by LED lights, or Sokol Blosser winery in Oregon, designed by Allied Works Architecture, where the terraces carved from the contours of the Dundee hills and walled gardens make an ideal location for gathering, reading in the library, and obviously wine tasting while enjoying the spectacular views on the Yamhill County Estate.

Chai_Ballande_et_Méneret-6708Entrepôt de vins Ballande et Méneret à Ludon-Médoc (Gironde), par l'agence d'architecture Baggio

Or Sokol Blosser winery in Oregon, designed by Allied Works Architecture, where the terraces carved from the contours of the Dundee hills and walled gardens make an ideal location for gathering, reading in the library, and obviously wine tasting while enjoying the spectacular views on the Yamhill County Estate.

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