Office Visit: Wineries by Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects
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When Kenzo Tsujimoto, a Japanese computer game tycoon and founder of Capcom Group, decided to build a winery 20 years ago on his 4,000-acre property atop Napa's Mount George, his design options were limitless. Yet he turned to local architects Backen Gillam & Kroeger , members of the Remodelista Architecture/Designer Directory with offices in San Francisco and St Helena, who are known for their winery expertise. The result is a set of handsome and low-key barnlike structures typical to Northern California with subtle overtones of Japanese influence seamlessly weaved into the materials and details of the buildings; understated, discrete with impeccable finishes—just like a good wine. Photography by Adrian Gregorutti . Above: Kenzo Estates is situated unobtrusively on Mount George, 1500 feet above the town of Napa. Above: While the influences come from vernacular barn structures, the wooden post and beams at the entrance are reminiscent of traditional Japanese Torii gates at shrine entrances. Above: The detailing of the Torii entrance mediates between the tall scale of the buildings and the smaller scale of the entrance to the tasting room. Above: Visitors are greeted in the flagstone-paved tasting room with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc before embarking on a tour of the grounds and the 20,000 square foot wine cave. Above: Wood panels on sliding barn door hardware conceal a video screen in the private dining room. Above: The muted green plaster finished walls and the earthy stained oak wood features come together in a restrained composition that is more often seen in Japanese tea houses than in Napa wineries. Above: The composition of the window and door bring a Japanese element to the tall barnlike structures, while natural stone floors extend out to the patio and terrace areas from inside. Above: In the early evening, the structure glows from within.