Hillside is well-known for its award-winning wine and delicious Bistro, but many people also come to see the outstanding architecture of the winery and the beautiful landscaping that surrounds it.
Hillside was the first winery designed by architect Robert MacKenzie back in 1997; he later designed others including Burrowing Owl, Red Rooster, Cedar Creek and Nk’mip. It took 2.5 years to build the current winery building which now dominates the view along Naramata Road.
The building’s style is taken from a gristmill design. Not only is the 72 foot tower architecturally stunning, but it is also functional. It acts as a ventilation shaft that helps to cool the winery cellar in the hot summer months. The tower and the cellar are connected by a door at their base and by opening the door we can circulate the warm air up and out of the cellar through the tower.
Hillside is a timber-frame building with all of its 85,000 board feet of white pine originating from a single stand in northern Saskatchewan (the lumber was milled in a specialty mill just outside of Prince Albert.). The four dark Douglas fir beams that hold up the roof and Upper Patio of our Bistro are the only B.C. lumber in the winery; they were logged off Vancouver Island in the late 1800s and previously supported the roof of the Acklands Hardware Warehouse on Granville Island in Vancouver for almost 90 years. In their lifetime these beams have survived at least three warehouse fires.
During the construction of the new building many round rocks were excavated from the hillside. Instead of removing the rocks we chose to use them in Hillside’s building and landscaping. We created a sturdy 22 foot high by 3 foot thick wall in our cellar which keeps it at the optimum temperature for making wine year-round. The excavated rocks were also used to build a graceful and impressive arch at the base of our tower topped by Amphictyonis, the Greek goddess of wine, health and longevity (known as Meditrina by the Romans). Her male counterpart Dionysus (Bacchus in Rome), the god of wine and cheer, surveys our Bistro from his home there between the wine racks.
Hillside’s gardens are also a distinctive feature of the winery. Karin Parkin, Hillside's long-time groundskeeper, is always hard at work making sure that her gardens are beautiful. Boasting over a hundred plant species, Hillside's gardens have all been designed by Karin's loving hands. Nearly a decade ago Karin undertook the daunting task of converting the old wild English garden and expansive lawns into the beautiful display gardens you see today. Her meticulous work ensures that visitors are greeted from spring through autumn with a grandiose showing of continuous blooms. Karin overwinters many of her favourite plants in pots upstairs on Hillside’s third floor (in our 3000 square foot staff room that doubles as a board room and private tasting area.)