One for the BooksAuthor:Lindsey Shook
“For me, the process is about creating a feeling—an experience,” says Juancarlos Fernandez co-founder of Signum Architecture. “My focus, more than the architecture itself, is on the emotional impact of the space and how the architecture evolves in response.” And at Booker Wines the Signum team along with Katie Martinez transformed the traditional tasting experience into a sophisticated, relaxed lounge where guests feel as if they are in a very chic home. “We create stirring, distinctive spaces with interiors that span styles, transcend trends and work in real life,” says Katie Martinez of Katie Martinez Design.
Nestled in 100 acres of the Paso Robles wine region, the property was designed for guests to enjoy the wines in various settings including a VIP tasting in a cave with the owner’s personal library of wines to a private outdoor lounge area where guests can book an afternoon of “Bocce and Bottles” and a vinyl lounge where music requests are taken. “We want Booker to be a place where guests can come to relax, as if at home and they are an owner of this magical place,” says winery owner Eric Jensen who lives on the property with his wife.
Named after two orphan brothers, Claude and Dick Booker, who purchased the land in the late 1920’s, the vineyard is now known for producing a myriad of different certified wines with an emphasis on Rhône varietals. “Both the vineyard and wines are named after the site’s original owners who had dedicated their lives to being great farmers, humanitarians and stewards of the land,”says Fernandez. “In our design approach, we took our cue from Eric Jensen, a self-professed minimalist, and his belief that a fanciful winery and expensive gadgetry do nothing to make a wine better.”
“Inspired by the visible fractures in the area’s chalky limestone soil, (which also form the inspiration for the brand’s Fracture label), we began to study the patterns created by the fractures in the soil,” says the architect. “These patterns, in turn, became the basis for the laying out the walls, in direct relation to the land and views.” Signum set the structures at an angle to the vineyard so they don’t compete with the rolling hills, providing views of Downtown Paso Robles, while becoming an integral part of the landscape.
The overall design direction was to curate an impactful yet minimalist environment that allowed the focus to remain on the landscape. “My goal was to push past trends to design spaces that would stand the test of time,” notes Martinez. “The interiors are restrained as we didn’t want anything to scream or be flashy. For the materials, we were inspired by the limestone in the soil as the jumping off point for a warm, light palette.” Raked limestone tiled bathrooms, bleached walnut and white oak cabinetry, cedar siding and beams, custom glazed ceramic tiles at the VIP back wall and burnished brass at the bar front effortlessly blend the interior and exterior. “We used no more than what we needed,” says Fernandez. “We used natural steel, that will rust over time, just like the stakes at the end of each vine row. The wood is cedar, stained in a natural finish, combined with board-formed concrete.”
When walking through the completed project, owners Eric and Lisa felt tremendously blessed. “When guests pull into the parking lot and hear the music, they know they’re on vacation in the wine country,” says Eric. “Then to be able to sit in any seat and appreciate the indoor/outdoor feel of tasting wine, while at the same time being in the vines and a part of nature with gorgeous views is memorable for everyone that visits.”