merit award

Caymus-Suisun Winery

Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson 

Project Location: Fairfield, California

Photographer: Matthew Millman

Caymus-Suisun Winery sets a new standard for hospitality in an emerging wine region, creating an elevated yet approachable experience and fostering a sense of discovery and immersion within the landscape. The winery includes a glass-enclosed tasting pavilion, sheltered welcome and retail building, and 29 acres of orchards, gardens, and vineyards. The tasting pavilion opens to let the valley’s hallmark breezes flow through, while a pyramidal oculus emphasizes changing light throughout the day.

”Very powerful and well detailed, pavilion style building with impressive passive heating and cooling measures.” – 2022 Design Awards Jury

Design for Integration

The project provides immersion and connection to the landscape while maintaining occupant comfort in a region with hot, dry summers and cool winters. Strategies for natural ventilation and minimizing direct sunlight throughout the day create an open and airy environment throughout. Integral to the sense of presence within this emerging wine region, the tasting pavilion’s deep overhangs and dramatic west cantilever provide shade during warm afternoons as the sun moves toward the nearby hillside.

Design for Equitable Communities

The site shares an entrance with a neighboring restaurant, hospitality and events center, helping to form a cluster of activity and encourage visitors to park and explore several amenities during a visit.

Design for Ecosystems

Our clients wanted each guest visit to involve exploration of the site’s dry-farmed vineyards and variety of diverse crops, including fruits, vegetables, and new tree plantings that provide additional habitat for small fauna and pollinators on the valley floor. Choreographing this indoor/outdoor approach, we integrated publicly accessible pathways through the site to encourage visitors to move seamlessly from tasting environment to landscape. Abundant natural light and wide openings in each tasting environment, as well as sheltered outdoor areas, help visitors experience the sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding landscape as they enjoy their visit.

Design for Water

Stone dripline infiltration trenches integrated into the outdoor circulation around the tasting pavilion mitigate stormwater and minimize volume of stormwater going into underground systems. Permeable pavers and perennial plantings throughout the site promote stormwater infiltration.

Design for Economy

Our clients wanted flexibility and multiple uses for tasting environments, both as a strategy to help groups of different sizes find their ideal setting as well as meeting the need for hosting varied community gatherings and events. We created tasting areas for different group sizes to feel comfortable, but left flexibility to easily scale up or down to accommodate different functions. Efficient back of house organization and location in core masses responded to our client’s operational and service needs while maintaining the interior’s clean lines and restrained materials palette.

Design for Energy

Large door openings and motorized transoms take advantage of southwest winds off the San Pablo Bay, reducing the need for cooling in the afternoon hours and allowing the building to open to the outdoors. The transom windows also provide nighttime flushing, using overnight air to pre-cool the building mass. On warm days when doors are closed, high-efficiency rooftop heat pumps and indirect evaporative coolers provide a comfortable interior environment. Hydronic tubing in concrete slab-on-grade provides radiant heating in winter and chilled floor cooling in summer. Deep overhangs reduce solar heat gain, particularly within the west tasting areas in the afternoon.

Design for Well-being

We conducted spatial daylight analyses to create an open, light-filled environment while minimizing direct sunlight into tasting areas during the warmest times of the day. The oculus over the central tasting area includes integral tint, low-e coating, and a frit pattern to reduce heat gain and moderate natural light. All tasting areas have expansive views to the outdoors, while deep overhangs, particularly over the west terrace, provide shade during warm afternoons. Large openings and motorized transoms take advantage of cooling southwest winds off the San Pablo Bay, while the motorized transoms provide nighttime flushing to pre-cool the building mass overnight.

Design for Resources

The Tasting Room is a steel-framed building. The Retail Building is a wood-framed building, with concrete masonry (CMU) walls and mass-timber roof structure. The project uses a limited material palette of wood, concrete, an aluminum and glass window system, and mass timber. Finishes were minimized by limiting painted gypsum-board to Back-of-House spaces. The project team worked with local artists and craftspeople to integrate interior furnishings made with local and regional materials.

Design for Change

The valley is a floodplain and the buildings were raised several feet above natural grade to remain above floodplain elevation without changing the natural drainage of the site.

Design for Discovery

Because the project was recently completed and opened to guests in June, a POE has not been conducted but is planned after 12 months of occupancy to understand how the design is working for staff, visitor comfort, flexibility of different tasting environments, and more. As a relatively new project typology for our firm, we plan to share information about process, successes and improvements with our staff to inform future projects.

AIA California
AIA California
AIA California is dedicated to serving its members, and uniting all architecture professionals in the design of a more just, equitable and resilient future through advocacy, education and political action. It celebrates more than 75 years of service and, today, is composed of more than 11,000 members across the state.

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