Sensory-Stimulating Architecture

November 16th, 2010

I wanted to share a special entry just talking about the AMAZING architecture I experienced while visiting wineries around Vienna, Austria. These wineries obviously wanted to emmerse their visitors completely in the beauty and quality of their wines. No rustic charm here — quite the opposite — intentially-designed structures from outside-in.

The act of drinking wine, of course, stimulates one’s sense of taste, smell and sight. Even the sound of the wine being poured into the glass can awake a pleasurable sound to our ears of what’s about to come. The feel of a long stemmed glass, swirling around a red or white — always brings a feeling of peace and calm to me.

As a glass of wine, the use of architecture can envelope all five senses and elevate them to an even higher level. The feeling one gets of being in a beautiful setting, sets the stage for an even more incredible wine experience. Now, this is all my opinion — you feel free to comment otherwise, but as a woman, I think we females value all things of beauty. Many of us, may just not always think of buildings as beautiful. Maybe its my B.A. in Art History talking, but I’m a sucker for well designed, meaningful spaces…I eat, or rather drink, it up every time!

So, I’ve picked my top three Austrian wineries — ranked solely on the impact their architecture had on me and my female senses and sensibilities.

 #3: Weritas Wagram near the Danube River. I was lucky to have lunch and a seemingly endless wine tasting at this location. The structure is simple and streamlined from the exterior with its siting right on the edge of  wooded property. It’s the interior that wowed me. We dined while seated on a white leather banquette with a horizontal band of windows behind us and two floor-to-ceiling walls of windows overlooking a foggy vineyard valley. The simple, modern design gave me a feel of Manhattan and the Miracle Mile — that is, except for the view. Lunch served buffet-style, help-yourself took nothing away from this rich, refined and classy atmosphere. Pure pampering! Only thing missing was the mani/pedi and plush, white robe!

#2: Hillinger in Mittleburgenland. Built in 2004, Hillinger wins the most modern and swanky winery. From its floating stone staircasesto its sheer glass ceiling-to-floor walls, from its roaring fireplace, leather couches and cowhide rugs — it MAKES you want to drink a glass of wine, lay around and chill ALL DAY LONG…and if allowed, I would have! While you sample wine after wine, your eyes can look out on the natural landscape of vineyards, Lake Neusiedl and the Leitha Mountains. I wanted to move in and never leave — ever feel that way about a tasting room? Don’t cha wanna?

#1: Hans Igler in Mittleburgenland. We were given a tour by the son of this family-owned and operated winery. The original winery was built between 1793 and 1804. Portions of the historic structure still serve to frame the central courtyard area onto which the new renovated space built in 2009 faces. A very understated glass entry and foyer opens into a small and industrially-designed tasting room. It was when the son flipped on the lights, that we turned to our right and first viewed the barrel room. The vaulted ceiling is constructed with a basket woven wood framework. The effect is that of an up-turned ship’s hull. The open framework supports the weight of the roof while looking like it could all be folded together like a woman’s delicate fan. The two-storied space with its Gothic arched ceiling is reminiscent of a historic church sanctuary, but has a modern edge created by metal railings and concrete floor. Simplicity of design creates this most peaceful and unique space in which the Igler Family cares for their most precious vintages.

In each case, the owners didn’t have to create such beautifully-designed spaces, however they realized and valued the unspoken words architecture could say about the history, quality, extraordinary character of their wines. I commend and thank them for the beauty they have created which will endure for generations. Three true, full-sensory art experiences!

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