See inside this faux-Mediterranean building on Waiheke that began as a craft beer project and evolved into an award winning winery
Discover redesign that transformed this run-down Waiheke vineyard
“We all thought we were making a craft brewery in an old shed, surrounded by some wrecked old vines,” says Nat Cheshire of Tantalus, which opened in spring on a beautiful bit of land at Onetangi on Waiheke Island. “It started out being about beer and plates of meat and became this kind of continually evolving project.”
Over three years, Cheshire – along with project architect Simon McLean and creative director Emily Priest – worked with Campbell Aitken and Carrie Mendell, who with Aitken’s family bought a run-down vineyard called Saratoga, including a large Mediterranean-ish building complete with bell tower.
The vines turned out to be in okay shape: eventually, the vineyard started winning awards – and the nature of the project changed.
Cheshire rebuilt the belltower in a slightly more refined way, then turned the place on its head with a big, wide staircase up the side, pushing its pitched roof back to the north, adding steel-framed windows that draw light deep into the building and down into the basement brewery.
The key to making the place work – apart from turning it to the sun – was in breaking it up into different spaces. Winter on Waiheke can be notoriously quiet, but it’s also entirely possible to have several hundred visitors for lunch on a Saturday in January.
So the main room can be closed down with long, elegant curtains or opened up completely: the bar is on hydraulic wheels, and can relocate around the space as needed.
The feel is at once European and yet distinctly contemporary, with timber, stone and linen. It’s comfortable, but then you notice how the line of the steel-framed structure meets the timber ceiling, and realise it’s much more than a shed. “It was an extraordinary opportunity to integrate someone’s experience of a vineyard as a totally curated one,” says Cheshire. “It starts from the front gate.”
70–72 Onetangi Rd, Waiheke Island