Portia Winery blends into the surrounding landscape thanks to its weathering steel facade

Foster + Partners first winery project was an opportunity to take a fresh look at the building type, using the natural topography of the site to aid the wine-making process and create the optimum working conditions while reducing the building's energy demand and visual impact.

Detailed information

The new winery of the Faustino Group, a 12 500 square-metre facility situated in one of Spain's foremost wine producing regions, has a production capacity of one million bottles per year. The building’s trefoil design expresses the three main stages of production: fermentation in steel vats, ageing in oak barrels, and ageing in bottles. These are controlled by an operational hub at the core.

The wings containing the barrels and bottle cellar are partly embedded into the ground to produce the most favourable environmental conditions for the ageing of the wine, while the fermentation wing is exposed, allowing carbon dioxide to be released.

A road rises to the roof of the building where the harvested grapes are delivered straight into the hopper. The winery is designed to take advantage of the sloping terrain using gravity to aid the movement of the grapes within the building, maximising efficiency and minimising damage of the grapes.

Weathering steel facade: Blending in and ageing with time

Whereas the structure of the building is made of concrete, steel is used for the cladding. Shingles of weathering steel, fabricated with Indaten® by ArcelorMittal, on all major elevations echo the brownish shades of the surrounding landscape and thanks to its self-protective patina, no maintenance is necessary.

Minimised visual Impact and maximised environmental benefits

The site in the Ribera del Duero region, approximately 150 kilometres north of Madrid, has extremely cold winters as well as hot summers with limited rainfall. The deep overhang of the roof canopy provides shade and the building is designed to regulate the internal temperatures, at the same time as reducing energy demand.

By partly embedding the building within the landscape, its visual impact is minimised and the passive environmental benefits are maximised – the roof incorporates photovoltaic cells and the thermal mass of the concrete structure helps to control interior temperatures.

At the heart of the winery a raised public gallery extends into glazed mezzanine areas, which project deep into each wing allowing visitors to enjoy elevated views of the different processes. Between the wings is a light-filled public reception and administration area where extensive terraces and pools of water overlook the vineyards. Lined with deep-stained old wine barrel slats, the public areas are designed to evoke the rich tradition of winemaking in the region.

One of the most innovative aspects of this winery is the design concept of a 'transparent facility' which allows for the easy visualisation of all of the wine making processes. The building's interiors are divided with glass walls and windows which permit sight into all areas of the production process.

Floor distribution

Ground floor: This floor is partially embedded in the landscape, and each wing houses a step in the wine production process. The wing closest to the N-I motorway houses the actual production process: 46 steel fermentation tanks with a capacity of 30 000 litres, 10 tanks for microvinification (11 800 litres), 6 for refrigeration (30 000 litres), and finally 10 tanks for storage of 53 000 litres. All vats are made of stainless steel and are provided with an integrated temperature control system. The second wing provides spcae for the barrel warehouse with a total of 6 000 French and American oak barrels, while the bottles are stored in the third wing.

First floor: The entrance area and office spaces are located on the first floor. Additionally, there are rooms for meetings and wine tasting, an auditorium, a shop, a restaurant, and a cafeteria. The central staircase permits access to the wine producing areas on the ground floor.

Roof: Accessible to vehicles, the roof plays an important role: Thanks to gravity, the grapes can be introduced to the winery without further installations.

Project information

  • Gumiel de Izan, Ribera del Duero
  • Spain
  • Architect:
    Foster + Partners London
  • 2006 - 2009
  • Client:
    Bodegas Portia S.L.
  • Engineering:
  • Contractors:
    Main contractor: FCC
    Roof & facade: CISA Cubiertas Internacional
  • Photographer:
    Nigel Young, Foster + Partners