They were social gathering spots, where the owners would invite their friends and families over to drink wine, eat meals, and sometimes sleep if they didn’t feel like going home after the wine and the meals.
And so when the partners in the Azores Wine Company set out to create their winery on the island of Pico, they followed that tradition, which was established centuries ago, almost as soon as the Portuguese discovered the previously uninhabited islands. Theirs would be a winery and then some, with rooms for overnight stays, a long table for meals shared between friends and a welcoming tasting room.
Expectations were high, because the Azores Wine Company is one of the most well regarded projects in Portugal. Founded in 2014 by winemaker António Maçanita, gourmet festival founder and tourism school director Filipe Rocha and Pico native and winemaker Paulo Machado, the company essentially put Azores wines on the contemporary map. Straight out of the gate, their wines won a slew of distinctions. The grapes they produced became the most expensive in Portugal (understandably, given the difficult growing conditions and the very high quality), on par with Champagne, Bordeaux and Napa Valley grapes. So they couldn’t built just any winery. It had to be special.
They chose four architects for the job. Inês Vieira da Silva and Miguel Vieira of SAMI – Arquitectos are longtime Pico residents, and their firm was behind the proposal that led to vineyard landscape and culture of the island being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. They worked with English architects Daniel Rosbottom and David Howarth of DRHR, whom they had met at international conferences and who had connected with Maçanita when Howarth needed information about Pico wineries for a project.