The site: The winery site is a vineyard on the terraced floor of the Gibbston Valley, near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island. It is bounded to the north by an existing quarry and the Kawerau River Gorge, with the Crown Range rising above; while to the south it is set back from State Highway 6 behind a heritage stone woolshed. The land is marked with uplifted grey schist ridges trending obliquely to the River. Viticulture is now integral to this formerly pastoral area.
The building: In response to recent growth in grape planting and increasing international demand for regional New Zealand wine, a new winery was needed that could process up to 650 tonnes of grapes (mainly Pinot). The utilitarian character of this simple agricultural building relates directly to the existing stone woolshed and neighbouring galvanised hay sheds. The barrel and tank modules determine the dimension of the roof spans. The propped frames are constructed from steel Universal Beam sections and are primed a dark grey. A translucent deep profiled Durolite GC cladding is fixed directly to galvanised steel roof purlins to create a long canopy that unifies the different parts of the winery and gives the building a lighter and more ephemeral presence in the landscape.
Peregrine didn’t want to turn its winery into a tourist centre; making wine is the sole focus of the operation. There are no retailing or food distractions. Leaving transportation at the car park, which is aligned with the rock reefs, the visitor takes in the ‘terroir’ of the Gibbston Valley in the walk around the reflecting ponds to the courtyard between the historic stone woolshed and the new winery. From there, a concrete entrance ramp takes the visitor down into the heart of the winemaking operation: a 40m long ‘cave’ with lines of oak barrels stretching to a far exterior courtyard. There, in a spartan ‘monastic’ setting, the viticulture and the wine can be contemplated and discussed with experts.
The winery building separates into two main functions: ‘back of house’, focussed around the covered lower level workpad; and ‘front of house’, on the upper level open to visitors.
Lower level: The main winery working area consists of the barrel store, workpad, and fermenters, excavated 3.5 m into the ground between the schist rock reefs. The height of the building is approx 6.4m to accommodate the white wine fermenter tanks. The upper level of the fermenter links through at mezzanine level to the conference room and upstairs courtyard. The landing heights at the access stairs are also arranged to take the workers out on the service walkways to attend to each fermenter.
The barrel store (section at grid 2) is a steel-framed structure clad with a 120mm insulated colour steel panel system. The concrete slab is laid to falls and is directly accessible by forklifts from the work pad.
The internal fermenter construction (section at grid 6) is a combination of 3.6m precast retaining walls with the insulated cladding system on a steel frame above that.
The precast concrete is left natural. The panels to the exterior are a standard ‘sandstone grey’ that sits well with the local schist rock. The interior of the lightweight insulated panel system is coloured titanium white with a dimpled surface to reflect the light, as there are few windows in order to reduce building costs as well as maintain a stable temperature.
After wine tasting, the visitor is free to wander across the top of the barrel room (section at grid 12) where views to the Kawerau River escarpment are framed under the translucent canopy. The 3 m high insulated precast and in-situ concrete extrusion is excavated 2 m into the ground to aid passive climate control for the wine barrel room. Steps lead down to a stone courtyard where a glazed end wall allows long views from the outside back through the barrel room. A kitchen and dining/conference room with a fireplace open into this courtyard under the big canopy (Section at grid 8). The circuit is completed by
walking back along the side of a flinty schist reef. The overhead canopy shelters the visitor during this walk.
The 140m long ‘fly’ roof removes the water proofing and snow loadings as well as improving the environmental performance of the serviced boxes below by removing most of the solar loading. The winery services, glycol electric, gas and water are circulated on trays hung from the roof purlins in the space between the boxes and the wing roof.
It was recognised early on that the building would be important in establishing the Peregrine wine brand. The canopy roof may be interpreted on a number of levels: a transformation or metamorphosis reflecting the refining process the grapes go through, as the roof rises from its low slope at the river end to the 25 degree slope at the woolshed end. On a more literal level some see it aligned with and becoming one of the uprising rock reefs. For the architects, however, the changing roof gradient was inspired by old still images freezing the kinetic rotation of a bird in flight. The roof is evocative of the majesty the Peregrine or native hawk has in wind hover as it glides on the thermal uplifts off the heated land.