Foster + Partners have unveiled their first winery in the vineyards of Ribera del Duero, north of Madrid, a lesson in how considered architecture can help improve the winemaking process. Raise a glass to Bodegas Portia.

“Bodegas Portia is our first winery, so we had no preconceptions about how it should work. It was an opportunity to start from first principles – to examine the different stages of wine production and to try to create the ideal conditions for them to unfold. The wine was the starting point, as well as the beautiful setting in Ribera del Duero. Using materials that draw on the region’s winemaking traditions, with public spaces open to the landscape, will enhance the visitor experience.”
- Lord Foster

The first winery by Foster + Partners architects is at once both striking and discrete. Nestled into the natural topography of the site in Ribera del Duero, 150km north of Madrid, Bodegas Portia has little visual impact on the landscape. Yet inside, it is home to voluminous public areas and a series of resort-worthy terraces with reflecting pools that frame vineyard views, as well as the essential wine production rooms.

As Lord Foster comments, this winery for the Faustino Group was resolutely designed to aid the winemaking process. Divided into three production wings, one is dedicated to fermentation in steel vats (exposed above ground, allowing carbon dioxide to be released) with the two others given over to ageing in oak barrels and bottles (both below ground to produce favourite environmental conditions). A road rises to the top of the winery, allowing the harvested grapes to be delivered direct into the hopper from above, making their way through the bodega with the help of gravity, which is said to minimise the damage to the fruit. Interested to see the process in action? At the heart of the Bodegas Portia is a glass public gallery with mezzanine areas that extend into the three production wings – cheers to that!

Related Articles

Flying With Lord Foster
Foster's Fleet
Foster's Fleet: Part II