Good Wine & good Architecture – Gantenbein Winery

Good Wine & good Architecture – Gantenbein Winery

Winery Gantenbein

“A winery is a workplace, not a show piece.” (quote from Martha & Daniel Gantenbein)

The Gantenbein Winery is located in Fläsch, Switzerland. The place belongs to the so-called Bündner Herrschaft, a region well known for good wines. The winery has been family property for a long time, and has been taken over by the current owners within the family about 25 years ago. After the takeover, a small revolution took place at the winery. A lot had been conceived afresh and tried. As a result of this, the winery gained worldwide prominence for its obviously excellent wines. By and by, it became necessary to add an extension (industrial building) to the old farmstead. Bearth & Deplazes Architects from Chur were hired for the draft.

“A winery is a workplace, not a show piece.” (quote from Martha & Daniel Gantenbein)

And yet, in the end it became both. Because, ultimately, this is the architects' task: making a small sort of show piece out of a workplace.The new building was supposed to combine a fermentation hall, wine cellar, and a Tasting Room. A demanding task for the architects.The new building is a mere reinforced concrete construction with a concrete framing. It has a basement and two upper floors. The roof of the building is a steel construction and has been tiled with anthracite corrugated eternit panels. The architects chose this material, since the adjacent buildings were also tiled with corrugated eternit. 

Modern columned Hall with a sacred Touch

Each of the three floors has its own clearly defined function. The basement has been designed as a modern columned hall, and impresses by its almost sacred grace. Slim, white columns support a ceiling panel in claret. The columns fulfil static functions and serve as water channels. The ground floor above contains the fermentation hall, also called cuvéerie, among wine connoisseurs. It is an open room with 12 fermenting vessels of oak wood. The climatic conditions of the cuvéerie had to be precise, 20 degrees centigrade at the most, 0 degrees centigrade at least. An elaborate façade was required. As a result, there are an outer and an inner façade. The inner façade consists of transparent polycarbonate panels at the level of the fermentation hall. The outer façade is made of a remarkably translucent meshed masonry.Since the wine ferments only once in a year for a certain time, the room is empty for the rest of the year. Occasionally, it is used for smaller events/celebrations. The concrete ceiling of the room has been left raw. The room has no separating walls or other installations. Only a staircase and a lift are found at the northern end.

Tasting Room at the Top Floor

The oval staircase leads to the top floor. Here, a tasting room is situated. A kitchen unit of exposed concrete installations, and heavy hand-made oak tables fill the room. The premises of the top floor have been set back behind the outer façade, which left space for a circumferential terrace.The outer façade of meshed masonry ends at parapet height, and the room, enclosed by glazed walls and glazed sliding doors, reveals the surrounding mountain landscape. A textile sun protection is situated behind the glazed façade, and the underside of the roof is also clad with textile.The colour design of the staircase and the top floor reflect the labels of the locally produced wines. Thus, the blue staircase reflects the shade of the labels for the Pinot noir, while the yellow green walls of the top floor pick up on the colours of the Riesling labels.

Dance of Light and Play of Shadow, thanks to highly complex Masonry

The outer façade is a small piece of art made of bricks. It does not only meet aesthetic demands. It also lights the cuvéerie behind it, with indirect, filtered light, and looks damn good doing so!From afar, patterns and shapes can be recognized on the façade. Depending on the angle, it either shows a picture of light or shadows. This became possible, because every brick lies shifted on the other, creating a gap between both. The façade has been built in 4mx2m units by an industrial robot from the ETH Zurich. Its masonry elements are prototypes, which have been developed in cooperation between the architects, ETH Zurich, professors F. Gramazio and M. Kohler, several students, and Keller brickworks. In the end, a beautiful façade was created, which is able to meet all climatic requirements of the cuvéerie (1,45kwh/m² U-value).


What impresses me is how sensitively the new building fits into its environment. High-quality architecture presents itself quietly in the form of an attractive industrial building


Project details


Bearth & Deplazes architects 

Facade in cooperation with Gramazio & Kohler, Zürich



completed in 2006


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