Sometimes, sharing is caring. Like when you share the deliciousness that is a bottle of Ancient Peaks’ Oyster Ridge with your friends over a plate of spaghetti bolognese. But other times, when your tasting room occupies the majority of a building except for one holdout lease space, sharing can kind of… cramp your style. So when the team at Ancient Peaks was able to acquire the lease space next to their existing tasting room and finally take over the entire building, we were happy to jump in. Cannonball, even.
The previous space was dark, a combination of dark colors as well as being poorly lit. The layout was a little wonky, due in part to not having full access to the entire building, but also because the main room was more suited to a cowboy bar than a winery tasting room. The layout of the building was a little… creative. The office spaces were in a loft above the tasting room, which caused the tasting room chatter to waft up to the office (not so great for sales calls) and for the office noise to carry down into the tasting room (not so great for the client experience).
Our goals for the redesign were to rethink the overall layout so that there was more bar space, more storage space (for wine club shipments and glassware), and a better way to showcase their unique soil samples that their vineyards are known for. The AP team was also really stoked on the idea of integrating cold buckets into the bar itself, dedicating a single space to a thoughtful merchandise display, and displaying family photos and maps in an intentional way. So we got to work.
With the opportunity to use the extra space on the east side of the building, we were able to rethink the whole layout of the main tasting room bar. What had previously been two rooms (the tasting room and a private event space), we combined into a bigger, better, badder tasting room. For the bar itself, we used the same structure of the original bar but added an engineered stone top and a weathered copper facade. We also kept the same cabinetry behind the bar, but gave it a modern facelift by removing the corbels and trim and adding a fresh coat of paint. And since one of the goals of this project was to add more storage space, we added some custom casework to the existing cabinetry that was all custom built for it’s intended use (e.g. glassware).
After some heavy lifting in the main tasting room (including knocking down some walls), we really needed to lighten things up. Like, literally. We did so by repainting everything with the same refined earth tones that you might find out in the soils of the vineyards. We wanted to keep the darkest colors lower and lighten up as you got higher in the space, so we kept the bar dark, the cabinets and the walls lighter shades of taupe, and the ceiling an off-white (quite the departure from it’s previous shade of dark brown). This was a drastic change in itself, but we leveled up by removing the wood paneling that was on the wall over the bar, adding crown molding, hanging more pendants over the bar, adding some wall sconces, and strategically lighting the cabinets so they appear to be subtly glowing from within. To keep the room from feeling too cavernous, we used some additional lighting tricks to make things feel cozier. We dropped the height of the pendants and wall sconces, and we also added non-structural wood beams to the ceiling in which we added track lighting (mounted and semi-hidden within the beam). This had the added benefit of lowering the appearance of the ceiling. Plus, it just looks cool.
Another goal was to spotlight the soil diversity of the Margarita Vineyard, which is a huge focus for the overall Ancient Peaks brand. The vineyard is made up of five different soils that ebb, flow, and intermingle throughout the vineyard. This is an element that’s represented on their new label designs and it’s a big education opportunity for the tasting room staff. In the old tasting room, they had soil samples featured in little jars that they’d stash around the bar. We wanted to give these unique samples the rockstar treatment they deserved (and encourage people to totally nerd out). The clear tube display was custom-built with a weathered steel base, each mounted on the wall with a U-joint (yep, that’s usually a plumbing fixture), and rubbed bronze elements. We also made sure each tube was labeled with the same icons that are used on the wine labels to show which soil type in which the vines were grown so the tasting room team can easily point them out while pouring.
The families behind Ancient Peaks wine are all ranching families. In fact, they still run Santa Margarita Ranch, one of the oldest continuously operated cattle ranches in the state of California. So when we set out to create a space in the main room for people to sit down and relax, we wanted it to feel like the intimate, cozy living room of a log cabin you might find out at the ranch. So we made use of agricultural elements (like the cowhide and tractor seat chairs), kept the color palate simple and natural, brought in lots of different textures, and kept everything low to the ground (lighting, artwork, seating) so it feels more lounge-y, casual, and cozy.
Throughout the entire tasting room, but particularly in the lounge, we brought in copper, leather, steel, and other various natural metals to accomplish the “modern rustic” look we were going for. Copper, in particular, is used to mirror the copper accents that we used in the Ancient Peaks labels and capsules. At the bar, the copper facade was custom-weathered to achieve the rustic look. Other highlights are the combined steel and wood coffee tables, tractor seat stools, animal skin rug, and leather couch in the lounge area. Here, we upped the visual interest by using a contrasting mix of textures all within the same color palate for a more refined look.
Cinnamon is the beloved family dairy cow born with topsy-turvy horns that, once she was ready to be “put out to pasture” (which, as it turns out, is a totally misleading phrase), was squirreled away until she died of natural causes at a ripe old age of 31. The family had her head mounted and we wanted to make sure her legacy lived on. So she now reigns over the “Cinnamon Room,” also used as the private event room. This was the newly acquired addition to the tasting room, so we relocated the original private event space here (so we could open up the tasting room). We were able to move the bar from it’s original location and refinish it to match the main bar with an engineered stone top and weathered copper facade. The materials used in this room echo the tasting room: taupe walls, off-white ceiling, wood-topped barstools, copper elements throughout. To further the cohesiveness with the tasting room, we added another wood beam with track lighting.
Now that the patio was no longer shared with other tenants in the building, we decided to go all out with it. We created a VIP-style lounge space complete with an outdoor bar for added seating, custom-built mobile bars that can be wheeled out to the patio if needed, and a design that can be easily sectioned off for private events.
BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET
All projects in the history of ever have a budget, and this one was no exception. We hit the budget with a couple of creative ideas and a bit of luck. The Ancient Peaks team loved the look of all hardwood floors, but that was out of budget. We instead used a “wood look” tile, which was much more affordable and–bonus–is way easier to keep clean. We knew we were going to paint the cabinets, so we simply used paint grade wood (vs. stain grade wood) for the custom casework. And because we wanted both bars to look similar, we needed to replace all countertops, which previously had been granite on the tasting room bar only. Someone knew a guy, who knew a guy, who got us a screamin’ deal on the engineered stone we used for the updated version, which was less expensive while still achieving the desired aesthetic. Score!
This transformation from dark and cramped to light, spacious, and welcoming is one of our favorites. The fact that the Ancient Peaks brand now feels like one cohesive experience, from the tasting room to the label, is something that we strived to achieve throughout the entire redesign process. And since we feel like in this instance sharing really is caring, we are honored to share this transformation with you!
“The redesign has been wonderful. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; customers have really responded to it well and the layout and flow has been very efficient from a procedural standpoint. The new look and feel really helps tell our story as a brand with a heart, which is really important in this industry.”
– Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, VP of Operations for Ancient Peaks Winery
Want to experience this incredible transformation for yourself? Good news: you can! The Ancient Peaks Tasting Room is located at 22720 El Camino Real in Santa Margarita and is open from 11a – 5:30p daily.
Check out the new branding & labels here —> ANCIENT PEAKS