Amazing Italy: A Historic Winemaker Buils a Groundbreaking $100 million Cantina

Antinori, the ancient family that has been making wine in the Chianti region since the 1500s, has just built a new groundbreaking winery in Bargino, near Florence, complete with a 200-seat auditorium, a museum, a restaurant and a shop. It is rapidly attracting the attention of architects and the public since it opened earlier this year.

A jewel of contemporary design covering 50,000 square meters (540,000 square feet), it is the brainchild of Florentine architects (Studio Archea) who felt that wine was the "oil resource", the "black gold" of Tuscany and deserved a monument to celebrate it.They dug up the hill over an area of 35 acres, sinking in 17,000 piles to stabilize the construction and covering everything up again to ensure the building would blend into the landscape. 

It ended up costing almost the double of what was originally planned, some €82 million ($110 million).

The result is striking. 

First, see how the building respects its surrounding landscape. Here it is still under construction but close to being finished (an Archeo aerial photo):

It's literally nestled into the hillside. Groundbreaking indeed!

Here's the entrance, with the spectacular corkscrew staircase leading down to the parking space under the building - and a corkscrew design for a winery seems particularly apt:

Here are the tasting rooms cantilevered over the wine cellars, you've never tasted wine in such surroundings, floating above the wine barrels:

There's a restaurant on top with panoramic views on the countryside - lean and modern, nothing but local wood:

Well, I'm not sure I like the furniture, it reminds me too much of Ikea/Scandinavian-style stuff...but it's a minor point. 

It doesn't detract from the overall feel of break-through innovation and it goes to show that Italy is not just Renaissance villas and can renew itself. 

Undoubtedly, it also takes special clients with deep pockets and the courage to follow their architects' iconoclastic suggestions... 

For more about it, read the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman's excellent article, here.

Source of photos: Cantina Antinori's website, click here to visit.

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