Some of Sonoma and Napa's finest wineries share a common trait: standout architectural features.
The perfect setting at Scribe Winery
Wine-tasting experiences are always about the great sips, of course—and atmosphere. Which is why I recently sat down with celebrated designer and artist Richard Von Saal of Vonsaal Design and Build (vonsaal.com), who shared his six favorite wineries when viewed through the lens of architecture, design and what those elements bring to guest experiences.
Insider’s Pick: Sauvignon Blanc
This winery is loved by visitors and locals for its events, exceptional wines and impressive grounds. Von Saal says he chose this winery because of its art (one can’t miss the bunny sculpture), along with the art of interior design and architecture. “Lucille Buell's use of reflection and reds and drops of wine in the fermentation room is impressive,” he says. “When you visit this winery, it’s like you’re immersed in the space instead of just passing through it—the whole place has a rhythmic groove.” hallwines.com
Guests can take in gorgeous views from the tasting room at Hall Winery.
Insider’s Pick: Estate Chardonnay
Scribe is known for making wines that truly tell the story of the land. Tastings and tours are available only to Scribe members, and the owners always give credit to the fourth-generation farmers who work the estate’s land. “I love the Ibiza-meet-California-wine-country feeling at this Sonoma venue—the aura feels chic, savvy and relaxed,” says Von Saal. “The hodgepodge of succulents, handcrafted tables and hillside rooms with themes of old-world modernism soothes the soul.” scribewinery.com
Scribe’s 2021 chardonnay
ASHES & DIAMONDS
Insider’s Pick: Cabernet Franc
This is one of the hottest new wineries in Napa Valley. Expect a youthful, minimalist environment while sipping world-class wines. Von Saal notes that the winery “fits delicately in the landscape, with design that’s almost like origami; the simplicity and midcentury architecture have the same flavor and fold delicately into the surrounding vineyards. For spring and summer, there’s nothing better than pops of yellow. Being here is like being touched by sunshine on a beautiful spring day.” ashesdiamonds.com
Ashes & Diamonds is a hot new winery in Napa Valley.
Insider’s Pick: Zinfandel and Heritage Pinot
This Sonoma winery has been family owned and operated for six generations and features a distinctly relaxed vibe. The owners produce great wines and host countless events. “This place is unpretentious and welcoming. The open layout and relaxed vibe make it perfect for day-sipping and concerts,” says Von Saal. “The place is just cool. It’s open, earthy and is a perfect place to kick back.” gunbun.com
Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu has been owned and operated by six generations.
Insider’s Pick: Syrah
This Napa Valley winery is built entirely into a Coombsville hillside cave. This hidden gem is lauded for its wines and the winery design. “I helped design the space, so I’m not impartial,” says Von Saal. “Everything flows into the natural surroundings. From the rusted gate to the enormous doors and cave design, it’s very welcoming. Hats off to Juan Carlos of Signum Architecture for this incredibly clandestine, natural and modern concept.” covertestate.com
Covert Estate is built into a hillside in Napa.
Insider’s Pick: Estate Cabernet
Cade is known for its amazing red wines, staggering views and for being a leader in the green movement. A LEED-certified winery, Von Saal built some of its furniture. “The architecture inspired and astounded me,” he says. “The interior design, by Napa’s Shopworks, added a level of environmental modernism and focus without taking away from the surroundings. “To maintain the winery’s environmental standards, I didn’t use any new materials and made the furniture with parts of a nuclear submarine from Mare Island. When you taste at Cade, you’ll feel like you’re part of the landscape, and be drawn into natural yet modern and edgy design.” cadewinery.com
Photography by: HALL WINERY BY LUCILLE BUELL, ALL OTHERS COURTESY OF BRANDS