CREO: Located in Napa California, Ashes & Diamonds Winery draws inspiration from mid-century modern architecture and the beauty of the surrounding California landscape. The 30-acre property is home to an upscale tasting room, a full-scale production facility, and vineyards. Working closely with the architect and winemakers, the landscape team helped bring the client’s vision to life -a bold, modern winery, grounded in the context of Napa Valley. The landscape design embraces sustainable strategies-from treating and recycling wastewater on site to support organic farming through the planting palette. Each element of the Ashes & Diamonds landscape was carefully considered to create a vibrant, sustainable space for visitors and employees alike.
Designing a tasting room and industrial production facility in such close proximity was a unique challenge. The relaxing hospitality space needed to be buffered from farm operations, while the wine production needed to function without being impacted by visitors. The landscape team created dynamic zones between the buildings, giving visitors a variety of spaces to explore, while guiding them away from the busy industrial operations.
The architectural design depicts a strong mid-century modern vocabulary which is continued into the landscape. Concrete paths create modernist, biomorphic spaces which juxtapose the linearity of the surrounding vineyards. The strong shapes create enclaves for visitors to gather and delineate areas of gridded planting, permeable gravel paving, and playful rolling berms. The native-grass-covered berms pay homage to the hills in the distance while providing alternative places to lounge and enjoy the beautiful views. The berms are constructed with recycled off-haul from the adjacent highway.
The mid-century modern language is also incorporated into the landscape through subtle detailing. Bordering the tasting room patio is one such detail -concrete grass block pavers. The pavers recall the iconic “breeze block” screens of mid-century Palm Springs California. In one condition, the blocks are incorporated into the ground plane and filled with stabilized decomposed granite to make an accessible path. In another, the blocks are filled with a drought tolerant grass and wildflower hydroseed mix. The brightly coloured wildflowers highlight the graphic concrete blocks and bring new life to the mid-century breeze block concept.
To the north and east of the production facility, two fields of grasses and wildflowers serve more purposes than meet the eye. They are dripfields that receive the entirety of the wineries’ wastewater. Due to the lack of connection to the city’s wastewater system, all wastewater is required to be treated on site. The design team pursued a higher level of treatment for the wastewater so that it can be reused as irrigation in the landscape. The wastewater comes from two categories – process wastewater (from the industrial wine production) and domestic wastewater (from the hospitality services). Over one million gallons of combined wastewater annually flow into the dripfields after being treated in a cistern on site.
During the three-month harvest season process wastewater flow increases dramatically. An estimated 52% of the yearly process wastewater is produced in this time period, inundating the dripfields. Plants that could survive the extremes of drought conditions and fully saturated soil were needed for these areas. A special grass and wildflower hydroseed mix was developed, and California redwood trees were added to the palette. The redwoods are supplemented with well water during the driest months, which is offset through the use of low water use plants across the rest of the site.
The landscape team addressed several other planting issues and opportunities. The winemaker called attention to the threat of the glass-winged sharpshooter. This insect spreads Pierce’s disease, which is deadly for grape vines. Plants that create habitat for the pest were carefully avoided. The team also collaborated with the winemaker to select insectary plants that support organic farming. Finally, the planting color palette was carefully considered. Plants such as Euphorbis x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and Opuntia ‘Santa Rita’ continue the yellows and pinks of the tasting room’s interior design, creating a harmonious visitor experience.
Bringing Ashes & Diamonds Winery to life was a balancing act of integrating relaxing hospitality space, active wine production, sustainable strategies, and a strong design language. Close collaboration with all members of the design team allowed the client’s mid-century modern inspiration to become a reality. The landscape highlights the architecture and surrounding area, creating a vibrant, sustainable site that is responsive to both historical design references and current environmental conditions.
Landscape Architect: CREO
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Architect: Bestor Architecture
Landscape Concept Design: Bestor Architecture, Landscape Studio
Project location: 4130 Howard Lane, Napa, CA 94558
Design year: 2015-2016
Year Built: 2016