Some wineries are such marvels they’d be worth visiting even if they didn’t have wine. From a 900-year-old Austrian cellar to a hulking Chinese building in the shape of a punctuation mark, below are nine unique settings to throw back a glass.
MARQUES DE RISCAL, SPAIN
You know that giddy feeling you get after drinking a couple of glasses of great wine? Frank Gehry captures it with his whimsical 2006 design that stands as the centerpiece of Marques de Riscal’s “City of Wine.” The modern structure is home to a hotel and Michelin star-winning restaurant and stands among vineyards that date back to the 1850s.
LAPOSTOLLE CLOS APALTA, CHILE
Founded by the Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (of the family behind Grand Marnier) this bird nest-esque winery brings French winemaking expertise to Chile. The circular structure was meant to represent the relationship between man and nature, and it’s oriented in the same direction as the Southern Cross, the most prominent constellation in the southern hemisphere. This, of course, is something you can mull over as you sip a glass of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or merlot—just a few of the varietals Lapostolle produces.
DORNIER CELLAR, SOUTH AFRICA
Instead of competing with the stunning Stellenbosch Mountain in the background, founder Christoph Dornier dreamed up the cellar’s curving roof to blend in with the surrounding scenery. A reflecting pool in the front of the building adds to the effect, while the entire back of the building is made of glass, so visitors can take in the full view.
O. FOURNIER, ARGENTINA
The foothills of the Andes mountains may seem like an odd backdrop for this ultra-modern concrete and glass building. And what goes on inside is just as cutting edge: The winemakers use a high-tech process that works with gravity to minimize the use of pumps that may damage the grapes.
LOISIUM WINE WORLD, AUSTRIA
LOISIUM Wine World fuses the old world to the new world. Its starkly modern hotel and spa conceal a 900-year-old wine cellar below. Experienced together, the hotel, spa and wine cellar offer a glimpse into the past and present of wine making. For instance, a multimedia light show projected on a bubbling water feature inside the cellar shows the path a grape takes from vine to bottle.
BODEGAS YSIOS, SPAIN
A shrine to wine in Spain’s Rioja region designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, Bodegas Ysios’s steepled entrance with towering glass panels welcomes visitors to the secular cathedral. The roof then undulates out from the center, curving to look like a row of barrels. From above the grounds of this winery, which is named in honor of the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris, are shaped like a wineglass.
MILESTII MICI, MOLDOVA
Parts of Moldova are cool. For instance, the limestone galleries of Milestii Mici are famous for staying between 54 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The 250-foot-deep caverns stretch for 160 miles, of which 75 are currently used to store wine, making Milestii Mici the world’s largest wine cellar. Called the Golden Collection, it contains nearly 2 million bottles, with the most expensive costing 480 euros.
CASTELLO DI AMOROSA, NAPA VALLEY
This castle is Italian in every way except location. In Calistoga, California, fourth-generation vintner Dario Sattui has meticulously re-created a medieval Italian fortress to house his winery. Castello di Amorosa has everything you’d want from a castle: a drawbridge, a moat, lookout towers, a chapel and even a torture chamber with an authentic 300-year-old iron maiden.
ASTERISK WINERY, CHINA
Is this steel, asterisk-shaped 22,000-square-foot winery built atop a man-made island so audacious that who gives a shit how the Chinese nouveau riche wine actually tastes? Yes.