Elgin Valley, Western Cape
“The public tasting area has a welcoming, almost domestic scale that creates the impression of a homestead.”
Hugh Fraser, ‘Modern Wineries of South Africa’
Almenkerk Estate is a family-owned wine farm of 40 hectares, situated in the scenic Elgin Valley in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. Inspired by the Client’s vision of a traditional Flemish hoewe (courtyard farmhouse) and informed by the rich tradition of Cape werf precincts, the Almenkerk Winery is a contemporary interpretation of these homestead typologies, with references to their spatial ordering and scale but articulated in a bold, contemporary architectural language.
The central courtyard is held by the winery buildings, which reflect the sequence and flow of the winemaking process. This cluster of buildings nestles into the sloping site and opens up to spectacular views across the valley. The scale of the buildings is derived from their functional requirements, while the materiality and finishing have a robust, neutral palette which complements the rich colours of the indigenous planting.
The large arched doorway to the maturation cellar, on axis with the main entrance, softens the rigidity of the courtyard and has been adopted as the estate's logo, appearing on their barrels and the labels of their flagship Almenkerk wines. The tasting venue is designed in a contemporary architectural language but with a warm, domestic scale and feeling with timber screens softening the strong effect of the stonework and large glazed openings.
Visiting the winery years later showed how the vision of contemporary homestead has become an integral part of the experience of the place – the tasting room is a welcoming, intimate environment which, with the owners’ dogs roaming freely and the winemaker present to give a personal account of the wines, feels as though you have been welcomed into their home.
In addition to the architecture of the winery precinct, Urban Concepts developed a masterplan for the estate as a whole, defining precincts to enable the estate to run both as a working farm and a tourist destination.
Winery, architecture, urban design
Joris and Natalie van Almenkerk
Elgin, Western Cape
Completed in 2010
Urban Concepts - architecture and urban design
de Villers & Hulme - structural engineering and project management
De Leeuw - quantity surveying
Drawings and graphics by Urban Concepts