Wine is embraced as the beverage of celebration and ritual all over the world. Yet growing the grapes that produce this most revered of drinks is a time and resource-intensive task. Producing a single bottle of wine consumes enormous amounts of paper, glass and water, not to mention the pesticides, fertilizers and fossil fuels needed to cultivate the grapes and the power used in the winemaking process.

Stopping this waste and pollution will require the wine industry to make some uncomfortable changes. But as one visionary designer has already discovered, the results could be just as beautiful as the wine.

Michael Jantzen’s Solar Vineyard Winery design concept is the definition of a multi-purpose building that adapts to the natural shape of the surrounding terrain. It is intended to house a large winery while also functioning as a solar electric generation power plant and visitors center. Electricity is produced through a large bank of curved photovoltaic solar cells that also provide shade for the structure below, and act as a visual reproduction of the way one would see rows of grape vines planted on a hillside.

And, as Greenmuze pointed out in a recent review, these aren’t the only qualities of Jantzen’s design that encourage conservation. “Rainwater is also collected off of the curved roof and stored for use in and around the winery. Large glass windows are recessed into the south side of the structure to shade the interior in the summer, and provide passive solar space heating in the winter. Natural ventilation is used throughout the winery for cooling, along with an extensive system of earth pipes that cool the air as it is drawn into the structure.”

“My hope with this design is to demonstrate ways in which alternative energy gathering systems like solar cells, can be integrated into the built environment without appearing to be an afterthought,” writes Jantzen. “In this case, the solar cells become an integral part of the esthetics of the design in addition to having the potential of producing a large amount of solar electrical energy for many years.”

Beth Buczynski

This post originally appeared at EarthTechling and was republished with permission.


  1. Christopher Hethrington
    Vancouver, Canada
    March 27, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Why is National Geographic partnering with Shell Oil on environmental alternatives when there is so much in the public record that suggests Shell Oil disregards environment and human rights in countries like Nigeria. Search “Ken Saro Wiwa” or “Wiwavshell” to learn more. I’m ending my subscription to National Geographic immediately.

  2. joseph petronio
    B.C. CAN.
    March 26, 2012, 1:12 pm

    What about working in the wineyard under solar panel ?
    will be safe what about radiation ? working long hours
    all season ?

  3. Ben
    Quadra Island BC
    March 26, 2012, 8:52 am

    There is no functional purpose to the curves. The same water gathering effect could be accomplished by an straight sloped roof with no curve. This would be a far simpler construction and cost less in material and labour, but it wouldn’t be architecturally “interesting.”

  4. josh
    March 23, 2012, 4:27 pm

    hussein Rainwater is collected off of the curved roof and stored for use in and around the winery

  5. hussein
    canada, toronto ON
    March 23, 2012, 12:17 am

    great project but can somebody please tell me what is purpose of the curves.