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Cover Story Success by design

Glass walls and a sweeping vista at Road 13 Vineyards.

Architecture has become a key contributor to the ‘whole experience’ that attracts visitors to British Columbia wineries.

By Judie Steeves T

here’s a strong business case for good architecture in the wine industry, according to those who have taken that step.

Mick Luckhurst, owner of Road 13 Vineyards in Oliver, says the wine industry’s success is all about the experience and the story behind each winery, in addition to the taste of the wine.

“People want a whole experience.”

Since completion of a new building last fall, wine sales have been pumped way up over last year, according to Lockhurst. In June he says they were up 50 percent, and in July 50 percent again.

From two years ago, when Road 13 rebranded from Golden Mile Cellars, sales have risen 250 per cent, he says. When he and his wife Pam decided on a new building, they went to Penticton architect Nick Bevanda, who designed the new winery building for Black Hills Estate Winery in Oliver — for which he received a B.C. Lieutenant-Governor’s award in 2008.

At their first meeting, Luckhurst says Bevanda asked them about the function of the building and they talked about what was needed. “I envisioned a building with a Tuscan/Mediterranean look, with a tile roof,” he recalls. Despite that vision, the Luckhursts later fell in love with the model that turned out to be for their winery, when they saw it at Bevanda’s office, and today it’s their “wow’ factor, without the Tuscan look and tile roof.

Not only do winery buildings have to be factories — practical production facilities — they also must attract visitors to try the wines and present a view to the world that gives a positive first impression of the wine made within their walls. “Hospitality is essential to include and you couldn’t take


away from the view,” so there are walls of windows leading the eye out through the vineyard from the tasting room. The building, notes Luckhurst, is all about a winery’s image. “It says something about the wine.” “People’s perceptions, their first impressions, trigger an emotion in people. The long walk through the vineyard to the winery sets people up for the wine tasting,” he explains. “The architecture is crucial,” he believes. “Our new building is bringing in people because of the beautiful architecture. I love the building. It gives you tingles.”

Bevanda’s firm merged with CEI Architecture last year and his staff became part of the Kelowna office of the company, which also has offices in Vancouver and Victoria, and has a total of 100 employees.

Bevanda says designing wineries isn’t far from his roots. They are firmly in the vineyard soil, since he grew up in the Okanagan Falls vineyard started by his family. At one point, he nearly left his profession to work in the family vineyard.

However, architecture claimed him and he’s watched a revolution in winery design during the past couple of decades as the industry has evolved in this province. Instead of European chateaux and villas, copying the architecture from old world wine regions, the building design has joined the wine in becoming more sophisticated and more responsive to the land — uniquely Okanagan. “I’m open to the idea that the buildings should reflect the land; respond to the views, the sun and the land they’re on,” he comments.

Glass walls allow people to look across the valley at the views through the vineyards — beautiful settings. Overhanging roof styles provide shading from the hot summer sun.

“A French chateau would be incongruous in the middle of a British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2011

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