California wine country may be best known for the Napa and Sonoma valleys, but in Suisun Valley, which is nestled between two mountain ranges just south-east of Napa, a diverse wine and farming community has been thriving for generations. As rustic and sleepy as this all sounds, a newly erected winery, designed by the architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), signals the region’s dynamic future. Established by the Wagner family, who are multigenerational vintners and also behind Napa Valley’s Caymus Vineyards, which they established in 1972, the new Caymus-Suisun Winery combines contemporary architecture and well-founded expertise to herald a new era in winemaking for the region.

Comprising a tasting room, retail building and 29 acres of orchards, vegetable gardens and a walking vineyard for guests to explore, the Caymus-Suisun winery brings a cool edge to the craft of winemaking. The newly built premises celebrate the landscape and agriculture of the Suisun Valley.

Open seating area in Caymus-Suisun Winery in California, looking out to palm trees

‘For many visitors, a trip to Caymus-Suisun Winery might be their first experience of the region – it has historically seen less visitation than nearby Napa and Sonoma,’ says Greg Mottola, a partner at BCJ. ‘We talked with our clients about the desire to create something that has an iconic presence, and yet feels well integrated into the landscape. The resulting buildings are warm and inviting, reflecting the Wagner family’s forward-thinking, open-minded approach to winemaking, as well as the exciting potential of a relatively under-the-radar wine region.’

He adds, ‘This is a completely ground-up project. The site plan concept was inspired by the assortment of modest agricultural support buildings, like sheds, that formerly occupied the site, along with an existing pole barn, once used for fruit drying, that has been preserved.’

Table and chairs beneath hanging artwork at Caymus-Suisun Winery in California

BCJ’s goal was to create an immersive, multisensory experience during tasting visits. Glass walls and operable transom windows allow the tasting pavilion to be exposed to the outdoors; glass sliders that open 30ft wide on either side of the central tasting room invite the afternoon breeze that funnels north from the San Francisco Bay (a Suisun hallmark) to flow through the building; and a pyramidal oculus overhead draws daylight into the space.

Meanwhile, new walking paths through the surrounding landscape encourage guests to explore the site freely during their visit.

Caymus-Suisun Winery interior with skylight set in wood ceiling

‘We talked with our clients about the desire to create something that has an iconic presence, and yet feels well integrated into the landscape,’ adds Mottola. ‘The resulting buildings are warm and inviting, reflecting the Wagner family’s forward-thinking, open-minded approach to winemaking, as well as the exciting potential of a relatively under-the-radar wine region.’

The journey of discovery continues indoors, thanks to an interior design concept created by Sarah Giesenhagen of The Bureau, in collaboration with Thad Geldert of Geldert Studios, which showcases furniture, fixtures and art by over 30 creative collaborators. The duo immersed themselves in the Wagner family’s winemaking legacy to create environments that express curiosity and an attention to detail at every turn. From Tanya Aguiñiga’s large-scale sculptural installation that nods to the burn piles of vines when the vineyard is cleared to Stephen Kenn’s canvas-wrapped wine-tasting bars, made from reappropriated vintage wine staves topped with resin, a careful and artful consideration has been maintained throughout.

planters on wood and resin bar at Caymus-Suisun Winery

Other memorable details include custom-carved planters by LGS Studio resembling ancient geological relics, a  hand-carved silver travertine stone water station by Hunt Studios and organic rope, wood and glass wall-mounted light sculptures by Jérôme Pereira, which all reflect ‘the level of intention and artisanship of Caymus-Suisun’s multigeneration winemaking family and their pioneering nature’, says Giesenhagen.

washbasin with green tiles inside Caymus-Suisun Winery

‘The goal was to have a balanced relationship with the magnitude of the architecture. We wanted to partner with it without turning the volume up too loud. The curated collection of art and custom furniture pieces are all rich in reason and story and they imbue a feeling that they have something to say that resonates with the place. The materials used were heavily natural so that there is a connection to the land and nature throughout. Transparency is such an important part of the experience, connecting you to the land and also to the feeling of where you are.’ §

Slatted wood wall and bench in California winery with interior design by Sarah Giesenhagen of The Bureau
Caymus-Suisun Winery wines on display in room
wooden bar and stone planter at Caymus Suisun Winery in California
Caymus Suisun Winery tasting building at night, designed by architects BCJ