NAPA -- The owners of Cuvaison Estate Wines originally conceived of their Carneros location as just an agricultural operation. However, later then decided to convert an existing vintner's office and laboratory at this site into a world-class tasting room nestled within the 390-acre property located at 1221 Duhig Road on the Napa County side of the Carneros winegrowing region.

Given the semiremote location and the long driveway leading to a series of developed facilities, potential winery visitors in the past often were discouraged by the lack of any visible hospitality presence -- sometimes turning around half-way.

To remedy this, the winery added a welcoming entry along with an enticing destination at the end of the road.

A new fence and signage announce entry and a metallic scrim -- with a subtle message added to the first building that comes into view -- encourages visitors to stay the course and continue their journey to the two new structures that now complete the existing winery campus.

The two new buildings, a tasting room and the barrel building, enhance the function of the existing production building and draw it into an attractive composition of three structures.

[caption id="attachment_84172" align="alignleft" width="450"] Courtyard behind the new Cuvaison Winery tasting room.[/caption]

Utilizing the language of forms and materials, the three buildings -- each with its own identity -- create a unified sense of place.

"The new tasting room, sited and shaped to take full advantage of dramatic vineyard and hillside views, quickly established itself as a popular wine country destination," according to Jay Schuppert, president of Cuvaison.

It accommodates both public and private tastings in separate rooms that can also be opened to each other and combined into a single unified space.

The new tasting terrace is surrounded by the vineyard and features exceptional vistas of the Carneros rolling hills -- providing an indoor-outdoor experience in the Napa Valley.

The new barrel building, while designed to accommodate winemaking activities requiring tall clear ceilings, is carefully articulated with office, staff and conference spaces to better relate to its neighboring structures.

A phased new addition to the existing facility in the Carneros region, the 9,350-square-foot barrel building now houses more than 2,800 barrels as well as the vintner's office and laboratory.

In addition, a vaulted second floor "blending room" allows VIP guests and visiting distributors a unique overhead view of the barrel room as well as exceptional views of the vineyard.

The entire Cuvaison Estate Wines campus -- buildings and vineyards -- is designed to minimize the consumption of natural resources. 

A large solar array provides much of the electrical power and storage ponds collect rainwater runoff during the wet season.

A clerestory panel of windows in the production areas reduces the need for artificial light.

Cuvaison produces Napa Valley pinot noir and chardonnay wines. It also produces cabernet sauvignon blends from its historic Mt Veeder estate, sold under the Brandlin label. This certified-sustainable estate has been handcrafting vineyard-to-bottle winemaking and block-by-block farming methods for primary varietals for more than 30 years.

These two new buildings situated in the Carneros region were competed in 2009.

Its current owners, the Schmidheiny family of Switzerland, purchased Cuvaison in 1979 and have profoundly shaped the growth and direction of Cuvaison Estate Wines.

When Thomas Schmidheiny's mother visited the Carneros region in 1978, she was so taken with the landscape and its potential for winegrowing that she brought a soil sample home to show her family.

That same year the Schmidheiny family purchased the Carneros estate where Cuvaison now makes its home.

In 2007 the owners installed 1,428 solar panels at the Carneros site and implemented a number of green initiatives to conserve natural resources and ensure sustainability. Both winery and vineyard are certified Napa Green.

The winery received an Award of Merit in 2011 as part of the PCBC/Gold Nugget Awards program recognizing those who improve our communities through exceptional concepts in design, planning and development.

"When taking on a complicated project such as this, it's important to have the right architecture and construction partners. With Gould Evans and Ledcor we found the perfect partners to create this award-winning construction project," Mr. Schuppert said.

"Finding that perfect balance of blending a barrel building and offices next to the hospitality area was critical. We were able to give the production team a building to suit their needs while also creating an enhanced visitor experience"

In 2012 Cuvaison was named "Winery of the Year" by Wine & Spirits Magazine.

It was also honored with a "Best of Wine Tourism" award for architecture and Landscapes by Great Wine Capitals in 2013, a network of ten major global cities in both the northern and southern hemispheres, which share a key economic and cultural asset -- their internationally renowned wine regions.Cuvaison Estate Wines tasting room, barrel building1221 Duhig Road, Napa Carneros

Owner & developer: Cuvaison Estate Wines

General contractor & construction management: Ledcor Construction Architect:  Gould Evans

Structural engineering: ZFA Engineering

Landscape architect & landscaping: Roche and Roche

Civil engineering: Adobe Associates

Mechanical engineering: TEP (The Engineering Partnership)

Structural engineering: ZFA Engineering

Electrical engineering: Ray E. Slaughter & Associates

Metal building: Soule Building Systems

Lighting consultant: Melinda Morrison

Fire sprinklers: Axcel Fire System

Photography: Matthew Millman