The “Mouth Agape” Factor

Dominus1 There are a few things that always leave me stopped in my tracks, mouth agape and oblivious to everything around me, leading often to being knocked back to consciousness by a jostle and the trailing sound of someone saying, "get out the way, asshole". Those things tend to be a beautiful woman and a striking and monumental piece of architecture.

In places like Chicago, New York and Paris I can often be found on a corner, looking outward and upward, staring at some man-made, habitable piece of art and lose touch with the movement around me. But this doesn't happen so much in the case of man-made winemaking facilities. So I thought it pretty cool to come across DesignCrave and it's post on the Ten Architectural Wonders of the Wine World.

Among the Ten is Dominus, located in Yountville, California in Napa Valley. The author of the post says this about Dominus: "a stunning angular obelisk of natural stones contained within a tough
wire mesh.  From afar, the building appears to be fully concrete, but
as you approach its stone character is revealed."

I remember the first time I laid eyes on the Dominus winery while driving south on Highway 29: "What the hell is that," I thought. But I was drawn to it. The Dominus structure is geometric and probably appeals to me for the same reasons that the many simple, concrete, vertical skyscrapers in Chicago do: extraordinary simplicity. But the thing about Dominus is that it has no relationship to its surroundings, making it somewhat gaudy in its "man-made-ness" and simple lines.

To me, architecture is most closely related to fashion where art is concerned. Many of the things that appear on the bodies of models on runways in Paris, Milan and New York will function as cover-up, but their primary function is interpretive. The same can be said of buildings like the Dominus Winery. It certainly does function as a winemaking facility, but it's primary purpose is to express an idea.

As some of you know I'm a huge fan of "Top Ten Lists". Give me a Pastis, a warm day and a few intelligent friends and I can while away an afternoon constructing them. For those of you who love wine and Top Ten lists, check out this post in DesignCrave. It's fun and thought provoking.

3 Responses

  1. Laurie Tadayon - May 26, 2009

    I like what you wrote about the Dominus Winery functioning as a wine making facility, but having the primary purpose of expressing an idea. I think that the best architectural designs embody these characteristics.
    Have you been to the Esterhazy Winery in Austria? I’m going to visit it in June. I’ve read that it’s Austria’s most modern wine making facility. It’s purpose was to provide a modern facility for wine making and storage, but the idea is to be innovative by developing and introducing new enological techniques.
    And it was built in view of the Esterhazy Palace thus maintaining the connection to its historic roots. The facility also happens to look supremely cool 🙂
    Going to read that DesignCrave post now. Maybe it’s listed there…

  2. mydailywine - May 26, 2009

    Welcome home Tom! You encouraged me to book my own beach holiday for August.
    I loved the Dominus Estate on first site.The free form rock walls are genius for maintaining temps and are local materials too!

  3. Tom Wark - May 26, 2009

    Thanks, Amy. Nice to be back Very nice.
    I love Dominus too. I’d like it even if it were merely an art piece.
    Did you book a trip to the south pacific?

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