A First Look at HALL Wines' Stunning New Visitor's Center

The immediate feeling one gets when touring the nearly-completed HALL Visitor’s Center and winery extension in St. Helena is one of expansiveness – of space, views and purpose. The Visitor’s Center, expected to open to the public in Spring 2014, will feature wine tasting, food and wine education, tours, landscaped gardens and an extensive art collection that promises to exceed even that of the HALL Rutherford location.

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The building is modern but understated when compared to the original plans by Frank Gehry, whose design was drawn prior to the main winery’s Gold LEED certification in 2009.  Kathryn and Craig Hall’s desire to continue Gold LEED certification led them to the decision to start fresh with Jarrod Denton of Signum Architecture, the lead architect on the winery project while at Lail Design Group.

The dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows in the tasting room connect visitors with nature and the 150-year history of the property with breathtaking, elevated views of the benchland vineyards to the west and completely restored 1885 Bergfeld building to the north.  A former winery, the Bergfeld’s spacious interiors will be used for events.

Inside, visitors will have a multitude of year-round experiences in an art-filled setting designed by Nicole Hollis, who also designed the striking Ovid Napa Valley.

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The central, low-profile tasting counter keeps the focus on the views while space-saving wine storage on the south wall creates a functional art piece.  Outside on the patio, a long fire-pit and cantilever roof provide comfortable outdoor tasting year-round.  One of the wines to look forward to in the tasting room is the 2010 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate Sacrashe Vineyard, available this September.  I had the chance to taste the pre-release wine which was just gorgeous - an elegant style of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, beautifully balanced and pure in expression.

Food and wine education is planned to take place in the three private rooms upstairs, and in the demonstration kitchen on the first floor.  The kitchens - designed in consultation with Chef Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards - augers an expanded offering of top-notch Wine Country experiences at HALL.

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The Halls are acquiring and commissioning new works of art for the interiors and outdoor sculpture garden, adding a signature touch to the Visitor's Center.  True collectors and patrons, the Halls have an eye for modern, colorful, eye-popping and spirit-lifting art, like “Garden Plot” above, a tondo by Nick Cave to be displayed at the tasting room entrance.  Like their personal residence, the light-filled Visitor’s Center is designed to display art at its best.

Until the new Visitor’s Center opens in Spring, guests can experience HALL at the existing tasting room in St. Helena daily between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. or HALL Rutherford by appointment.  401 St. Helena Highway South, St. Helena.

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