Tasting the Wine in British Columbia

Desert climates and fine wines rarely come to mind when thinking of Canada.

But in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, on the northern portion of the Sonora Desert – the only desert climate in the country – architect Nick Bevanda has designed and built a wine experience centre for the Black Hills Estate Winery.

In record time.

“We started in December and finished in April, just in time for tourist season,” the partner with CEI Architecture says.

Equally tight was his budget of $850,000 for the 1,800 square-foot building that now stands atop the footprint of an older house, torn down to make way for the centre.   The original swimming pool remains.

“It’s a place to go to taste the wines, sit and enjoy a bottle, and then buy the wines,” he says.  “It’s got a deep overhang to protect you from the intense sun.”

The language of the building is decidedly modern, taking its cues from the 5,000 square-foot winery Bevanda designed nearby a few years back.

“We’re not trying to mimic an Italian villa or a French chateau,” he says. “We wanted to express the program honestly, to allow the context to inform the building’s form.”

It’s glazed on four sides to allow daylight in and open up the views to the rolling hills, the nearby lake, the 44 acres of vineyards and the blue sky.  Windows can be opened up for a natural breeze to cool things down.  The pool also allows some natural cooling opportunities.

The intent was to say something about the land and the climate, to make it attractive to tourists, and to make it a destination for an afternoon drive.

As it happens, Bevanda comes from a family of grape growers, so he speaks the language of the winemakers on site.  “I understand what it means to clear the land, plant the grapes and build the infrastructure,” he says.  “I understand what happens in the vineyard, and I can express it in the buildings there.”


For more on CEI Architecture, go to http://www.ceiarchitecture.com/

For more on Black Hills Estate Winery, go to http://www.blackhillswinery.com/

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