Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I drink to support the environment...

Waters Winery in Walla Walla, Washington (say that five times fast) has just opened a $2 million bottle of goodness with their 5000 square foot winemaking facility and tasting room. Designed by Seattle's Boxwood Architects, the facility utilizes day lighting, insulation and a whole heap of recycled materials.

Just like the age-old tradition of winemaking, the building is wonderful in it's simplicity. It went back to the basics of construction, using simple methods to reduce heating and cooling loads by relying on sun-insulated concrete. The 80% recycled steel structure surrounding the 17" thick walls is left exposed, thus utilizing the available space. Huge linear skylights also flood the fermentation room, reducing the winery's electric bill by 60%.

Waters Winery Founder Jason Huntley (also Founder and Managing Partner of Huntley Thatcher Ellsworth, Ltd.) is banking on this venture to set him apart, considering Walla Walla has 100+ wineries throughout the area.

Boxwood Architects isn't exactly new to the vino game. They've also designed wineries for August Cellars, Brian Carter Winery, Carlton Winemakers' Studio, Carlton Winemakers' Studio II, Col Solare Winery, Distefano Winery LTD, Dundee Winery, Hightower Cellars, Nicholas Cole Cellars, Reynvaan Winery, Stillwater Creek Vineyard Visitor's Center, Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center, and Washington Wine Company.

Hell, if you're going to specialize in an area of architecture, grape facilities sounds like a heck of a lot more fun than corporate commercial.

From their website:

BOXWOOD'S APPROACH TO WINERY DESIGN is based on an inclusive process that features teamwork, strong listening skills, and collaboration. This process involves establishing a clear direction and vision during the initial stages of programming, conceptual layout, preliminary cost estimating, and project scheduling. We are committed to the exploration of alternatives combined with structured decision making, so that project participants become engaged in collaborative problem solving rather than vested in opposing solutions. We recognize that wine industry projects are often driven by tight budget and schedule parameters, and require a proven project approach, as well as effective management to be successful. A combination of setting appropriate goals, bringing the right people together for input on specific project issues, correctly sequencing project milestones, and persisting with patience and enthusiasm is critical to achieving finished solutions on time and within budget.

Boxwood's role is to help raise issues, coordinate the process, document our conclusions, facilitate discussion throughout the team, and eliminate guesswork.

What's more is that that Waters Winery is also a member of the Walla Walla Valley Vinea, a sustainable trust dedicated to responsible winemaking.

From their website:

The Winegrowers Sustainable Trust
: Is a voluntary group of winegrowers that have embraced a covenant with environmental, economic and social sustainability concurrent with their production of grapes and wine.

Sustainable Wine Growing: Is a holistic system of recognized cultural production methodologies that employ environmentally-friendly and socially responsible viticultural practices that respect the land, conserve natural resources, support biodiversity, exercise responsible relationships with workers, neighbors and the community and provide continuing economic and biological vineyard viability.

Mission: To develop and implement a sustainable vineyard management program, synonymous with the Walla Walla Valley, internationally recognized for its strict environmental standards and high quality farming practices.