After having completed the Mission Hill Winery in the heart of British Columbia, Seattle-based architecture practice Olson Kundig Architects was tapped yet again for the design of Mission Hill’s sister winery, Martin’s Lane. Set into a steep hillside in the picturesque Canadian city of Kelowna, the newest von Mandl Family Estates winery features a design that follows the existing topography to facilitate a gravity-flow winemaking process. In addition to production facilities, the winery—which has won awards for both its wines and architecture—includes a visitor’s center and tasting room with sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards and terrain.
Completed in the summer of 2016, the Martin’s Lake Winery is largely built from a striking combination of glass, obsidian-painted structural steel, weathered corrugated steel and concrete. The massive rectangular volume—spanning 34,800 square feet—is defined by a “central daylighting ‘fracture’” that splits the building down the middle, separating the production side from the visitor area. That “fracture” is fitted with clerestory windows to pull natural light deep into the interior.
The production side of the winery stair-steps down the landscape, making use of the natural slope for the gravity-flow winemaking process. The grape-receiving area is located at the top, followed by the fermentation and settling room, then the bottling room on the aboveground level and, finally, the underground barrel storage area. The cantilevered visitor’s area includes an office, wine lab, tasting room, dining room and a variety of publicly accessible areas that offer glimpses into the production process. Large windows frame views of nearby Okanagan Lake, the iconic winery bell tower, and the vineyards.
“The idea of the building is to embrace both the landscape and the nature of gravity-fed wineries,” explains principal architect Tom Kundig. “Because it’s on a hillside, it was an ideal location amongst the vineyards of the area. The building falls along the topography of the land where production happens, while the hospitality portion of the program cantilevers out over the landscape, opening the space to the lake, the vineyards, and the mountains beyond.”
Images by Nic Lehoux and James O’Mara