Tantalus Estate

Some years ago a young couple came to us to make a craft brewery in an old cinderblock building they had bought. A few months later, they discovered that the ramshackle grape vines that surrounded it were salvageable, and after a little work, made really really good wine. So now we were making a winery and a brewery. And a restaurant. And two-hundred person function space. The architecture grew organically, keeping step with our evolving image of what was possible here.

The old shed had an idiosyncrasy: A bell-tower, and a couple of simple curves plastered into its gable-end. It was like a warehouse in thin drag: a couple of stilettos and some hasty makeup, passing itself off as Dutch or Spanish mission Church. Painted pale salmon.

We started by dignifying what we had found. Cloaking the building in a sandy plaster the sun-beached colour of its soil. Rebuilding the bell tower, and using its voluptuous little arches throughout the interior in order to reconcile and integrate it with the whole. Extending the gable and dematerialising it in filigree steel and glass. Buttressing the building with rough blocks of local stone. Turning the front into the back and the back into the front, so that we heliocentric lot might sip our chardonnay in the sun, not the shade.

Underscoring everything is a commitment to the organic, the bespoke, and the hand made. In pursuing the demands of an intense hospitality operation, we made lights from twisted old vine branches, plastered walls with straw, laid local stone against the chimney, dyed fabrics and painted tiles by hand. In these principles – the organic, the bespoke, the hand-made – we’re just trying to get spatial experience to stand in the same place as that the beer, the wine and the food should take you.

Photography by Samuel Hartnett