To grow fine wines, a vintner must have precise amounts of sunshine, moisture and fertilizer to produce grapes at the peak of their perfection. With all the attention wine lovers focus on climate and weather, designer Michael Jantzen has decided to put a similar emphasis on a house that reflects the needs of vintners.
The result is the Solar Vineyard House concept, a smaller version of a similar plan Jantzen had proposed last year for a large winery operation. In this latest version, the house would be designed specifically for wine aficionados in the temperate wine country of coastal California. In addition to being influenced by the wine-making process, the house design also has several sustainable features that can help reduce its carbon footprint.
Measuring 5,000 square feet in area, the Solar Vineyard House would be suitable as both a residence and as a small wine-making operation, Jantzen says. The rounded contours of the house would not only be surrounded by vineyards but also made almost a part of the vineyard grid. The wooden pathways through the vineyard rows, made of sustainably harvested timber, meet the sides of the house directly and are carried up of over the partially glassed-in roof, continuing on again through the rest of the vineyard. The overall effect makes the house resemble a smooth boulder that has been left in a field while the land around it is cultivated.
In between the paths of wooden slats arcing over the house, four long, narrow strips of solar panels are incorporated into the south side of the structure, providing most of the electrical needs of the house. Natural ventilation for the interior would be provided by open window on either end of the sideways barrel-shaped structure. Broad overhangs over the windows would also provide additional shade from the California sun.
Rainwater will also be collected from the roof and contained in storage tanks for reuse as irrigation and for other non-potable uses around the house. The extensive use of glazing will provide natural daylight illumination, which will be filtered through the strips of slatted-wood panels.
The entire shape of the Solar Vineyard House is meant to echo both the rolling hills of California wine country and also the cylindrical barrels and fermentation tanks used in the process. The upper level, containing a smaller arc than the lower floor, would contain the residential and social activity areas. The ground floor would contain space for equipment used in the wine-making process, which Jantzen envisions mounted on wheels for easy portability.