In the span of a few months, Pt. Leo Estate has quickly become a new icon for wineries in Victoria. Located on the Mornington Peninsula, the new cellar door combines natural and man-made art to engage with consumers and set a spectacular scene. In this Q&A, Chloe Szentpeteri found out what inspired the team at Pt. Leo Estate and Jolson Architecture, Interiors and Landscapes and how their vision came to be. In this discussion, all answers have been compiled by the team at Pt. Leo Estate and Jolson Architecture, Interiors and Landscapes, courtesy of Roger Lancia, Geoffrey Edwards and Stephen Jolson. This article was published in the April issue of Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker.
As the industry continuously evolves, more wineries are developing ideas that transform traditional cellar doors to create an immersive and engaging customer experience. Such an example is Pt. Leo Estate. Their new cellar door and the addition of Sculpture Park celebrates the landscape and invites consumers in. The vineyard and cellar door is now dotted with magnificent artwork, and a new restaurant called Laura, has just been opened. So how did this dream come to be? After identifying the vision, general manager, Roger Lancia, and Sculpture Park curator, Geoffrey Edwards worked closely with the principal architect, Stephen Jolson from day one through to the finished product. Now, after five months of being open, the team said the design has helped to reap the rewards.
What was the inspiration behind Sculpture Park and the cellar door design?
The inspiration behind the Sculpture Park and the cellar door was from the Client’s passion for the arts and the possibility of making art accessible to the public combined while engaging with an extraordinary rural landscape. Each sculpture was specifically collected for the Pt. Leo landscape as it was responsive to its surroundings – sea, sky, vineyards and rolling landscape. The image the viewers see grabs their attention.
Pt. Leo Estate’s iconic building is designed as an object within a landscape and for the public to engage and react to, just like one of the sculptures in its spectacular grounds.
What was the process from design through to construction? Can you give a step-by-step?
A brief is established to set the vision, defining aspirational, functional and financial aspects.
Concepts are prepared, followed by rigorous critique, assessment, feedback and responses. Projects such as these allow for brief fluidity, testing of ideas, establishing, rejecting and refining elements of the brief. A building envelope is established and siting, materials and site access are explored in further detail.
Approval from local Council is required and consultants are engaged to navigate planning schemes, review environmental and social impacts on the proposal, assess vehicle movement and car parking, waste management, service vehicles, and road ways.
Once approved, the consultant team increases to include structural, civil and services engineers, acoustic engineers, landscape designers and operation consultants. The design is developed with team input, from its conceptual framework to a working, functioning building and documents are prepared to define every detail of the project. Aesthetic, functional and cost parameters are continually tested.
Then the extensive set of documents detailing all aspects of the project are created for tender and a ‘roadmap’ for the builder to construct.
The creative process continues through construction. Samples are made, often at 1 to 1 scale, finishes refined, details reviewed and sometimes revised to reflect aesthetic functional or financial feedback.
Who was in charge of design and construction? (i.e. was a contractor hired who specifically focuses on wine projects etc.?
Renowned Melbourne-based architectural, landscape and interiors firm Jolson worked for three years on the design and build of the cellar door and restaurant. Principal Stephen Jolson said it was of paramount importance to the design brief that the architecture and interior design response was contemporary, contextual and accessible to the public.
How were the needs and aesthetics of Pt Leo Estate taken into account when designing a project unique to the wine industry?
Purposefully located on the highest point of this rural 135 hectare property, the public engage with the established vineyard, dramatic ocean views and a truly Australian landscape.
The built form emerges from the ground and as you transition through the forecourt, the walls hold back the extended vineyard. In time, long tendrils of vine will cascade over to veil and anchor the building, reinforcing the designs response to site and context — a building that is of, and in, the land.
An iconic, memorable built form that stitches together the functions of wine tasting, food, art and architecture, each element seamlessly works hand in hand with each other to create a memorable and lasting experience.
Are traditional designs and architecture of cellar doors no longer sufficient enough to attract tourists and boost profitability?
Pt. Leo Estate aims to be a destination that is marked in the landscape and embraced by the earth. The cellar door is located to specifically immerse visitors within a vineyard context.
The cellar door is located closest to the vineyard to reinforce the origin of the grape and winemaking while tasting. It leads to a large outdoor terrace where visitors can enjoy a wine in winter and summer sun, not to mention the spectacular vineyard and coastal panorama.
“We want the general public to leave the property resonating with a quintessential Victorian coastal experience of engaging with an established vineyard that is celebrated by significant local and international arts and culture,” said Jolson.
Do you think the incorporation of artwork and sculptures is required for a company to have status in the modern world? (For example, the opening of McLaren Vale’s ‘The Cube’ having such a vast impact on impressionism and originality for tourists)
Sculpture Park curator Geoffrey Edwards, former director of Geelong Gallery and former senior curator of International and Australian sculpture at the National Gallery of Victoria, said that Pt. Leo Estate aims to have international clout.
“It’s been landscaped from scratch as a sculpture park and it’s the only one on the coast with a spectacular panorama.
“Internationally, the notion of established vineyards adding outdoor sculpture has become something of a new cultural genre,” he added.
“But rarely has this been achieved with the same single-minded vision and on such a glorious site.”
It’s not required but it certainly delivers a great experience for all.
Is it practical for a vineyard to outlay the funds required for such a design project?
Pt. Leo Estate is more than a vineyard. The vision incorporates wine, food, sculpture and architecture in a unique rural coastal setting. Investing in design has given the property a clear visual identity and the project is seamlessly integrated, but also has individual functions each contributing to the next.
Have you seen returns and increased tourism as a result of the new cellar door and Sculpture Park?
We have been open less than five months, so have had no prior history but it is proving very popular with many repeat visits.
Is originality and unique design for a cellar door a ‘new era’ for Australian wine regions?
It is exciting to see investment in strong and contextual design for Australian wine regions. Like most sectors, market share relies on excellent product and extraordinary memorable experiences. Australian wine regions are deserved of unique design solutions that draw on their context and showcase their product.
What advice do you have for other vineyards wanting to increase their marketability through new designs/wanting to achieve public awareness?
Celebrate the context and sense of place to create a unique identity. Define and understand your market and create a memorable lasting experience. Stay fluid, and evolve with your customer.