As the Donum name means “Gift of the Land,” the 150 acre site serves as the generator of the program and building forms. Located in Sonoma County’s Carneros wine-growing region, Donum Estate’s primary design objective was to create an elegant set of dispersed winery buildings which frame an open-air sculpture garden featuring artists such as Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring and Fernando Botero.
Donum Estate produces only single-vineyard, estate wines from vineyards in Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley. The bayside site is surrounded by rolling hills with views of the coastal range in the distance. The winemaking program takes advantage of the site’s high exposure to humid marine air by focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals.
The new Production and Hospitality Buildings pay homage to a dairy previously located on the site by observing a pattern of relatively small, white structures with gable roofs. While both buildings nestle themselves amongst the world-class art in the landscape, the Hospitality Building carries the art theme within the gallery-like interior. A series of enormous skylites define the north side of the vaulted ceiling of the Great Room and generous floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors capitalize on the surrounding views. The exterior is characterized by board-and-batten siding that vary in width and spacing, lending an appearance of undulating topography upon otherwise flat walls.
Like the Hospitality Building, the Production Building was locating on the footprint of a previous building to minimize impact on the site. The hillside footprint encouraged a traditional gravity-assisted program for winemaking with the Fermentation Room and Crush Pad housed above and the Barrel Storage Rooms contained within an elongated underground concrete box below. As the Fermentation Room is not conditioned, the skin of the building is delineated by staggered courses of horizontal metal panels with different patterns of perforations. The ethereal nature of the building perimeter generates playful light patterns within the building and evokes a dematerialized surface on the exterior.
While both the Production Building and Hospitality Building have been designed to augment any visitor’s experience at the Donum Estate, the structures also strive to focus attention outward to the immediate landscape and surrounding horizon. As wine ultimately comes from the grapes grown on the land, the vineyards are celebrated through framed vignettes and backdrops to world-class art.