It’s not so long ago that Argentina’s wineries were all made of traditional adobe walls (mud and straw) in oblong constructions. But in the past decade, the architectural firm Bormida & Yanzón has introduced “localized” style concepts and created some of the most visually appealing wineries in the country.
Deeply functional and contemporary, the designs focus on incorporating the landscape of the main wine region, Mendoza.
Prior to the 1990s, Argentine wineries used the Pampas (fertile lowlands) as their stylistic icon and largely ignored the rugged Andes mountains that served as Mendoza’s backdrop. However, since the arrival of ample foreign investment in the region and the launching of new projects to create showcase wineries, a lot of innovative thinking has gone into winery architecture.
“We relate our projects so intimately with the landscape because winemakers always remark to us the importance of enhancing the perception of the qualities of our vineyard landscape,” explains Eliana Bormida, who spearheads winery design in the firm.
Bormida & Yanzón, headed by Bormida, Mario Yanzón and their daughter Luisa Yanzón, was founded in 1972, and for many years its work on wineries focused on refurbishing and reworking old ones.
Its first completely new winery, Salentein in 2000, remains a landmark achievement. This commission was an open invitation to come up with entirely new winery style ideas.
“There was nothing on site,” says Bormida. “They just had some vines already in production and we had to select the site to place the winery. So we decided to start the project with the selection of the background we wanted. The winery faces out from the spectacular Andes backdrop and the whole touristic circuit is channeled with the direction of the mountain view in mind.”
Tourists calling in at Salentein first encounter the visitors’ center, restaurant and art gallery. Named Killka, which means “gate” in the native Quechua language, the building appears as a beam supported by two wide pillars to give the impression of a portal. The glass-walled center guides visitors’ eyes towards a path on the other side; in turn, it leads through a small vineyard in the middle of desert surroundings that heralds the winery and marks Mendoza’s transformation into a wine region.