Bodega Garzón

Irvina Lew • December 1, 2016

Photos: Bodega Garzón

Boutique winery Bodega Garzón—located just west of the tiny southeast Uruguayan village from which it takes its name—is the world’s first to seek LEED certification for its entire facility. International vintner Alejandro Bulgheroni (also an oil billionaire and founder of food and forestry company Agroland) acquired the 500-acre property with his wife Bettina in 1999, and the recently opened $85 million winery estate has already received praise for its design, technology, and sustainable practices. The complex—designed by Argentina-based architects Bórmida & Yanzón with interiors from San Francisco’s Backen Gillam & Kroeger—encompasses a 205,000-square-foot winery and production facility; an open-fire, 120-seat restaurant; retail space; a tasting room; and caves for barrel storage, private dining, and events.

Bodega Garzón incorporates elements drawn from a variety of sources, including underground spaces typical of Old World wineries in France and Italy, and cutting-edge technology innovated by New World wineries in Argentina, Australia, and the U.S. “We took all these elements and combined them into one harmonious whole,” Bulgheroni explains.

The architectural plan features different sized asymmetrically shaped rooms that frame panoramic vistas of ancient rock formations, brooks, fields, and mountain ranges, plus the vineyard landscape enhanced by more than 25 non-invasive native species. Bulgheroni, whose vision was to create a world-class, limited-production winery—with an onsite hotel in the works—also enlisted Carlos Hartmann, his director of construction (and an architect with Samconsult, whose LEED-accredited associates worked closely with Bórmida & Yanzón) to develop his forward-thinking vision. Bulgheroni and Hartmann expect to learn what level of LEED certification the site will achieve by mid-2017.

The structures’ placement and technological elements exalt light and shade, reduce water consumption (with a water feature for evaporation, rainwater used for irrigation, and low-flow plumbing fixtures); generate energy thanks to windmills and Photovoltaic and thermal panels; and ameliorate temperature extremes with locally sourced materials such as granite, concrete, and stone. And to help minimize carbon emissions, Bodega Garzón offers company transportation for its approximately 250 employees, carpooling options, and has plans to provide charging stations for electric vehicles.

Just as the building was constructed to integrate into the landscape, the interiors function for people. “The idea was to transition between the architecture and the user,” notes Hartmann. “Technology is there, hidden, to serve convenience and efficiency, not to be flashy.” Inside, explains Cristof Eigelberger, a former associate architect at Backen Gillam & Kroeger, raw steel, honed marbles, and brass accents combine with muted, earthy and caramel colors that reflect nature. “We added layers of rich leathers, textiles, and lighting to bring the space alive and comfortable and to make guests feel at home,” he says. Along with a wide variety of materials sourced nearby—including more granite, concrete, and sustainable woods—there are locally produced decorative items, such as lanterns, vases, and baskets and custom elements, from lighting fixtures and hardware to tilt doors and rugs.

“We took into account the connection with the land and created the design with very warm, simple and elegant interiors that draw the eye equally in and out,” Eigelberger adds. “It is important that the spaces stay fluid with a soft transition, integrating the landscape and vineyards during the day, then transitioning into an intimate layered glow in the evening.”