São José do Rio Preto is a town located 60 km West of São Paulo with no tradition in grapes or wineries. Bravely, the owners of this farm have decided to face a challenging research and enterprise in order to produce a high quality of cabernet and syrah wines. Overcoming the first obstacles and encouraged by very good results achieved, they are going to build a winery and a cellar on the upper border of this small grape field.
This project aims to reproduce the climatic condition of a cave adapted to that topographic and soil condition. It is just partially underground since we objectively excavated just enough to produce the volume of soil we need to build these armed earth thick walls. The same soil in which the grapes grow will provide us the main construction material to shelter the wine production, storage and wine club.
The geometry is clear, five solid modules of 10x10m holding an 8 m diameter void circle inside and for small 1.6 diameter voids in its quadrants. The five ‘rooms’ were displayed in two groups: two of them for production, and three of them for storage and tasting as a wine club. One ‘room’ in the wine club was kept open as a cloister, it brings the sky into the ‘cave’ and it also provides an access to the rooftop: a reflecting pool is roofing this building.
The thick walls prevent quick changes of temperature. Actually it provides a quite stable climatic condition inside, pretty close to the average temperature on that site. Natural light is controlled as well, a few openings balanced according the function inside, Humidity is balanced by the water flow from the roof slab and a narrow water way goes down toward the artificial pound, marking the lower edge of the grape field.
This winery starts a ‘new culture’ in São José do Rio Preto. Its wine will add one more voice to an old winery tradition, it will be talking to all wines produced around the world. It will add a remarkable brazilian taste in that repertoire.
We thought about this building the same way.