Set in a redwood grove at the heart of California’s wine country, a short distance from downtown Healdsburg in Sonoma County, the brand-new hospitality venue from Flowers Vineyard & Winery is dedicated to the celebration of wine, food and nature. Occupying a cherished local landmark sus-tainably renovated by San Francisco-based Walker Warner Architects, House of Flowers is a wel-coming haven of unpretentious sophistication that channels both the winery’s sustainably produced wines and the natural beauty of the 15.5-acre estate. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating, sprawling gardens and a wood-fired grill, the venue was designed, in collaboration with Maca Huneeus Design and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, as a place to celebrate community and friends through the experience of wine.
The winery’s founders Joan and Walt Flowers pioneered the growing of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape types on the rugged coastal ridges off the Pacific Ocean and for the past 30 years have continued pushing the boundaries of their winemaking. Their desire to share their coastal wines within a setting that expressed their nature-based ethos led them to take over a deteriorated winery built in the mid-1970s in Healdsburg with the aim to “create an environment where guests feel like they are entering our home”, as Joan and Walt say.
The architects’ approach to the renovation of the dilapidated winery was “deceptively simple”, whereby they injected the industrial buildings with a contemporary vibe while creating new pathways and expanding the gardens allowing guests to enjoy the wines both inside as well as outdoors. As Brooks Walker, principal at Walker Warner Architects explains, it was all about letting “nature dominate and use architecture to frame the experience”.
The decision to remodel the existing industrial structures rather than building anew was a no brainer since it aligned with the Flowers’ commitment to sustainability. Externally, the original redwood boards have been stained a shadowy black as a reflection of the deep shade of the surrounding redwood grove, which imbues the buildings’ rustic charm with subdued elegance as well as makes them recede into the site to allow the landscape to become the focus.
Inside, the ubiquitous use of bleached cypress wood for wall panelling and ceilings in conjunction with plenty of windows and skylights make for bright spaces and established a yin-yang relationship of outside to inside. Guests are welcomed into a home-like environment of restrained elegance, complete with a living room, dining area, library and sun room as well as a large patio and private spaces for VIP guests. Swathed in the light tones of bleached cypress and featuring an elemental palette of natural materials like wood, linens, wool and ceramics, the interiors evoke an authentic country vibe yet feel squarely modern. Generous views of the gardens once again enhance the intimate connection between inside and outside, as do vintage pieces and bespoke furnishings like the ash, cypress and steel bookcases and the black stained bench made from California walnut.
Conceived as a series of intimate gatherings areas, the landscaped gardens include an outdoor wood-fired oven, shaded trellis strictures and reflecting pools, while the surrounding terraced gardens take advantage of the buildings’ hilltop location to immerse visitors in “distinct California ecologies: Redwood Forest, Oak Woodland, and Chaparral landscapes, with the vineyards and distant ridges of the Mayacamas Mountains on the horizon”, as Thomas Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects explains.
From the welcome glass of a Sonoma Coast Rosé offered to arriving guests under a redwood grove, to the locally-sourced, hand-crafted food pairings curated by celebrated chef Jamil Peden, every aspect of the guest experience is designed to stimulate the senses, inspire conversation and celebrate Flowers’ winemaking ethos.