Home    Contact Us     Subscribe



Unveiled Vintage: Le Clos Jordan Winery by Frank O. Gehry & Associates

Lincoln, Ontario: A new winery will seem to float above the vineyard.

by ArchNewsNow
July 11, 2002

Frank Gehry was, quite literally, larger than life at a special presentation held on Tuesday near Lincoln, Ontario. The event was the unveiling of his design for the Le Clos Jordan Winery in Canada’s Niagara Peninsula. His presence (on two large screens) was via a satellite link from California where he is recuperating from back surgery. It was a milestone on a number of levels, not the least of which is that the project is the Toronto-born architect’s very first Canadian commission. (The project was announced in June 2000, the year the principal vineyard was planted with vines shipped from a nursery in Burgundy, France.) The principals of Canadian-based, Vincor International and Boisset, La Famille des Grands Vins, of Nuits-St-Georges, France, were also on hand – in person – to provide updates on their new vineyard estate.


Winery Form and Function


The winery will be sited at the center of Le Clos Jordan’s principal 35-acre vineyard, on the gently sloping Jordan Bench of the Niagara Escarpment (less than two hours from Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake). Surrounded by environmentally protected forest and woodlands, the winery will be hidden from view, some 1,500 feet from the nearest road (Regional Road 81). As visitors drive around the edge of the vineyard, the winery will slowly reveal itself, complementing the landscape as a gently flowing structure with softly curving white stucco walls and an undulating metal roof, reflecting the natural landscape and the sky (it is yet to be determined whether the roof will be titanium or stainless steel). Gehry sees it as “a silver cloud floating over the vineyard with the winery spreading out beneath it.”


The winery will operate on multiple levels both above and below grade to take advantage of the natural gravity flow within the winemaking process. Sections for each of the key stages in wine making, including grape crushing, de-stemming, pressing, tank and barrel fermentation, together with a tasting lounge, a wine boutique, and a glass-enclosed gathering area in the red wine cellar, would be organized around a central, great hall from which each area would be clearly visible. The current design for the great hall calls for a series of floor-to-ceiling (possibly colored) glass columns soaring dramatically from their base in the underground cellar.


Designed to both accommodate and inspire the process of making exceptional red and white wines, the building will offer an exciting and informative experience for visitors who would be guided through all areas of the winery unobtrusively via suspended catwalks and pathways at and below ground level.


The size and budget have yet to be established. It will most likely be a mid-sized winery (25-30,000 barrels), and could cost as much as $30 million. Le Clos Jordan is designed to bring global attention to the Niagara Peninsula and to the super- and ultra-premium wines it produces.


Groundbreaking is anticipated to take place following the receipt of all the necessary development approvals, which may take time considering the impact such a project will have on tourism in the area. If all goes well, the winery will be completed in time for the vineyard’s first release in 2006.


Speaking on behalf of a team of 14 architects that have been working on the Le Clos Jordan winery project, Gehry was enthusiastic about the results. “We have been guided by the passion that our clients at Vincor and Boisset have for wine and winemaking,” he said. “We’ve worked to create a precedent-setting facility in which they’ll produce wines that will be among the best in the world. Some aspects of the design have been a breakthrough for us. And, on a personal note,” he added, “I am very excited at the prospect of working in Canada.”


 “We are absolutely thrilled with Frank’s design plans for our winery,” said Jean-Charles Boisset, Vice-President, Boisset. “Frank and his team have shown great sensitivity to the natural beauty of the vineyard by creating shapes that grow gently out of our unique ‘terroir.’ They have also embraced every stage of the wine making process with an extraordinary understanding of the characteristics of both Burgundy and Canada.”


Echoing the same sentiments, Don Triggs, President and CEO, Vincor International added that working with Frank Gehry has been “a dream come true.” “The process took many twists and turns and is still evolving,” he said. “However, what we see today is a very real expression of what we expect from our Le Clos Jordan wines – it is a real feast for the senses. As our wines pleasure the palate, so the design of the winery, both inside and out, will be a beautiful experience for our eyes and our imagination.”


Adjacent to the principal Le Clos Jordan site, two more recently acquired vineyard properties are also under development, bringing the total size of the estate to 137 acres (75 percent dedicated to Pinot Noir and 25 percent to Chardonnay).


Canadian-born American architect Frank Gehry is known internationally for his distinctive structures that incorporate new forms and materials. Since 1962, Frank O. Gehry & Associates, based in Santa Monica, California, has grown into a company with broad international experience in museum, theater, performance, institutional, commercial, and residential projects. Notable projects include: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; the American Center, Paris; University of Toledo Center for the Visual Arts; the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; Experience Music Project, Seattle; and the forthcoming Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. His work has received the most significant awards in the architectural field, including: the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of the Arts and Letters (1977), the Praemium Imperiale Award by the Japan Art Association (1992), Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award, the first ever awarded, for lifetime contribution to the arts (1994), the Pritzker Architectural Prize (1989), the National Medal of the Arts (1998), the AIA Gold Medal (1999), the Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (2000), and the lifetime Achievement Award from Americans for the Arts (2000).


Vincor International Inc. is North America’s fourth largest producer and marketer of wines.


Established in 1961, Boisset, La Famille des Grands Vins owns controlling interests in some of the oldest and most renowned wine houses in the world.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

(Frank O. Gehry & Associates, Inc.)
The winery for Le Clos Jordan will feature softly curving white plaster walls and an undulating metal roof reflecting the natural landscape and the sky.

(Frank O. Gehry & Associates, Inc.)
The winery's great hall calls for a series of floor-to-ceiling glass columns that will soar dramatically from their base in the underground cellar. Visitors will be guided through the winery via suspended catwalks and pathways at and below ground level.

(Steven Elphick)
Cheers: Frank Gehry (on screen), along with Don Triggs, President and CEO, Vincor International (far right), and Jean-Charles Boisset, Vice-President, Boisset, La Famille des Grands Vins (second from left), raised a toast to Le Clos Jordan and its proposed new winery. Joining them were Randy Jefferson (second from right) and Edwin Chan (far left), both partners in Frank O. Gehry & Associates Inc.

(Steven Elphick)
Le Clos Jordan vineyard today; the first vintage will be 2006.

© 2002