one of the most sustainable wineries in the world
munden fry landscape associates (MFLA) in collaboration with piechota architects, designed the most environmentally friendly winery in the USA. situated at the base of the alexander valley foothills, california, ‘silver oak winery’ —designed as a production facility and tasting destination, is planned to frame the vineyards landscape, while enhancing and preserving natural ecologies.
by incorporating an agricultural vocabulary that reinforces the authenticity of the place, the studio carefully designed a climate-appropriate, agrarian landscape of new vineyards, hedgerows, grass meadows, fastigiate screens, and entry allées. the result is a landscape expression that slips through the architecture creating a dynamic interplay of light, shadow, reflection, and repetition.
all images courtesy of joe fletcher, keith scott
alexander valley silver oak winery preserved natural ecologies
MFLA (found here), in collaboration with piechota architecture (here), developed a sensitively integrated assemblage of landscape and structures to define each environment. ‘silver oak winery’ received both LEED platinum and living building challenge certifications as was the only ‘net zero water and energy’ winery in the country.
the project’s landscape range included developing the vineyard’s master plan; vine layouts, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, production and tasting building siting, parking and visitor-guest, and event environments. the agriculturally focused design provides strong horticultural wayfinding which guides visitors through a series of apertures and settings within the tasting areas. natural ecologies on the site are preserved and enhanced, including a 2.5-acre (10 sqm) pond that serves as the main water source for the vineyard working with a network of designed bioswales and an innovative water management system.
a vibrant, sustainable ecology
recalling the exalted role that water plays in the region, a custom-built reflecting pool runs alongside the tasting room. its central placement provides a cooling effect and reflects the project’s many layers of articulation – gravel, concrete, trees, wood plank siding, glass– together on a single plane. as part of the conservation effort and preparation for new planting, most non-native species were eradicated.
native oaks on the property were preserved, with one large specimen transplanted to a more prominent location on the tour walk. laurus nobilis, an evergreen hedge that requires minimal water, creates outdoor rooms and frames views to the surrounding landscape. at the entry road, bioswales are planted with muhlenbergia dubia, a species well suited to summer-dry climates. at the tasting room and production building, carex barbarae, carex praegracilis, and juncus effuses, all california natives, line the bioswales. insectary planting promotes the health of the vineyards and reduces pesticide use by providing a habitat for beneficial insects such as bees, ladybugs, lacewings, and other pest predators.
framing the vineyards with architectural ‘windows’ that look over an agrarian landscape of new vineyards, hedgerows, fastigiate screens and a culinary garden
the insectary palette includes a diverse range of native shrubs, flowering perennials, and wildflowers deliberately chosen for functional purposes across the site. by exploring the site’s natural identity, paired with the client’s goals, MFLA responded with a design that supports a vibrant, sustainable ecology while meeting the needs of a working production facility and an inviting environment for fine wine connoisseurs.