Cloudy Bay Vineyards – Founders’ Cellar

27 April 2022

5 Green Stars for revamped cellar a first for wine industry


Name: Cloudy Bay Vineyards – Founders’ Cellar

What: a 400m2 small-batch winemaking facility, visitors viewing, tasting and function space, wine library, blending room

Where: 230 Jacksons Road, Blenheim, Marlborough

Background: the first building constructed on site at Cloudy Bay Vineyards in 1986

Occupancy: 5 to 10 members of the winemaking team + cellar door visitors

Project Snapshot

Owner: LVMH - Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton - French holding multi-national corporation

Architect: Paul Rolfe Architects

Main contractor: Scott Construction Marlborough

GSAP: Ethan Duff - BECA

Project status: commenced January 2021 (delayed by Covid lockdowns) completion May 2022

Project certification: 5 Green Star Design Review rating (December 2021)

There are building projects and there are labours of love.

For the team at Cloudy Bay Vineyards the transformation and greening of the winery’s original cellar building from an underutilised mixed-use space to a small winemaking facility and visitor area is definitely the latter.

During the late 1980s the cellar building had been a buzzing headquarters for Cloudy Bay’s pioneering winemaking activity in Marlborough but over time its role has changed.

In 2018 brainstorming about how to repurpose the much-loved but unproductively-used heritage building took shape.

Four years later the winery’s vision for a state-of-the-art visitor experience wrapped around the daily workings of winemaking has come to fruition with a dynamic green-themed structure saluting Cloudy Bay Vineyard’s hefty industrial heritage in Marlborough.



The winery’s senior operations manager Roger Baillie says threefold thinking spearheaded the revamp.

“We saw an opportunity to create a small-batch winemaking plant that would further develop our team’s ability to make even better white wines and at the same time we wanted to share this important space with our visitors, to better connect them with our story, our history, heritage, our love of winemaking and our vineyards. Thirdly and importantly we wanted to honour the importance of our first winemaking cellar and the people who created Cloudy Bay.”

From the outset the Cloudy Bay project team embedded best practice sustainable design into the cellar’s redevelopment.

“Sustainability and environmental responsibility are at the heart of what we do across our business so it was important for us to put these considerations at the forefront of the project,” says Roger.

Being held to account in project decision-making and having the building independently audited and approved by Green Star was an essential component.

“Green Star has a great reputation for this and we felt it was exactly the right fit for us. It’s certainly been a collaborative project that’s drawn on everyone’s expertise to get the best outcomes.”

“The project has highlighted for me that we can reuse materials and help the community. For example, a concrete wall has been crushed up and reused in other projects on-site and the cellar’s roof has been donated and reused.”

He says bringing the old cellar up to new building codes and incorporating the Green Star design requirements feels like a huge achievement.

Standout green features of the project include 74 percent retention of the building’s existing façade; retaining and strengthening of its structure (allowing embodied carbon to remain in place); a large-scale solar panel array (27kW on the building, to sit alongside the site-wide 400+ kW system with net-zero energy an anticipated outcome) and a rainwater harvesting system.

Architectural highlights include a steel-framed glass pod suspended across the width of the building allowing visitors to view the inner workings of the winemaking floor below where 16 PEFC certified French oak cuves (barrels) are centre stage.

The building’s recent 5 Green Star design rating represents the first time a commercial winery building in Aotearoa has been awarded a Green Star certification.

Roger says Cloudy Bay Vineyards is excited to be the first and part of the green leadership space.

“We really hope we can inspire others in the wine industry who are attempting similar builds to minimise the environmental impact of any construction projects,” says Roger.

Beca building scientist and GSAP Ethan Duff says Cloudy Bay Vineyard’s green thinking goes beyond the walls of its refurbished cellar building.

“Winemaking is a large energy and water consumer - Cloudy Bay have taken the opportunity to extend their green philosophy to their buildings as well as the winemaking itself. This will improve the operations of the buildings and the wider site through monitoring equipment to measure and disclose the environmental impacts of energy generation, water collection and reuse systems. What’s really neat is the display screen in the gallery which will show visitors the actual energy and water consumption, as well as the energy and water which has been captured and used on-site.”

He says the cellar building has been “a totally unique project” in its merging of industrial, visitor and heritage elements.

“Cloudy Bay’s history is quite literally held within the building with the wine library holding its vintages right back to its first in 1985. The process of reviving this building and greening it in the process has been incredibly exciting and challenging.”

Ethan says the revamp has been an unusually small-scale Green Star project.

“Applying Green Star to a small existing building which accommodates both visitors and winemaking has meant meticulous attention to detail. It’s also meant we’ve had to look closely at how we could maximise the benefits of Green Star for such a unique building. The result is a building that will operate well for the winemakers, and be an enjoyable and comfortable experience for the Cellar Door guests”

Selecting the correct heating systems that are discrete and create a comfortable environment without the feel of an industrial building, and flexible lighting to showcase the giant oak barrels but switch to an appropriate level for winemaking are part of the mix.

Project architect Paul Rolfe who describes the cellar building as “an artefact of the industrial heritage of Cloudy Bay Vineyards” says his design approach respects the past while looking to the future.

“The glass pod is at the juncture between these two realms. Suspended above the winemaking floor its glazed bridge-like structure connects the past with the future while the visitor stands in the present.”

He says integrating innovative and sustainable solutions were a key driver throughout the design process.

“The building now celebrates Cloudy Bay Vineyard’s commitment to the art of winemaking, to the environment and showcases the winery’s excellence in quality and design,” says Paul.

Ensuring that level of excellence in design has been delivered to the project has been critical for Scott Construction site manager Colin Stringer.

“We’ve brought a lot of the very latest technology into a building without taking away too much of its old natural character. Converting a piece of Cloudy Bay’s original history into a contemporary space has been a high end, complex project.”

He says during his first day on site he realised the level of emotion tied up in the project and the fondness people had for the building.

“There is a Rimu tree right alongside the building which was planted on opening day in 1986 and it was made clear to us that whatever happened this had to stay,” says Colin.

“Everyone you talked with had either worked on the original building or knew someone that had. For our drainlayer this was one of his first jobs as a self-employed drainlayer and our first building inspector was an apprentice carpenter on the original building.”

Recently returned to Marlborough after 25 years in Christchurch’s commercial building industry Colin says it’s been an honour to undertake such a prestigious project for Scott Construction.

He says coming from the post-quake Christchurch environment he’s very conscious of recycling and repurposing where possible.

“From talking with my guys and the subbies on-site at Cloudy Bay who’re mostly locals I think Green Star has opened their eyes a lot to the importance of building smarter and greener for our kids and their kids' future.”

Meanwhile, Roger Baillie believes the bottom line for the winery’s Green Star certified labour of love is the message it sends to staff.

“I believe there’s a lot of pride and satisfaction we as a team can gain from knowing we’re working for a business that puts sustainability, environmental responsibility and staff comfort at the front of a big project.”

As for the Rimu tree planted next to the cellar building in 1986. It is now thriving alongside the newly named Founders’ Cellar.

Green features include:

  • Minimal modification to existing building envelope
  • 27kW PV array generating 100% of the buildings energy needs (on a net annual basis)
  • 5000L of rainwater harvesting - collects and distributes water to an adjacent hospitality building as well as Founders’ Cellar
  • High level of thermal comfort
  • Materials used in the project meet transparency and sustainability requirements
  • At least 5% of parking dedicated to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure provided for fleet and visitor vehicles
  • High-quality acoustic environment for visitors and staff
  • High specification glass, insulation and acoustics selected for comfort
  • Energy and water monitoring systems
  • Low environmental impact refrigerants in the heating and cooling systems
  • Public sustainability performance display screen showing energy and water performance and renewable energy generation

Technical features include:

  • Energy consumption reduction of at least 20% compared to a standard building
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from operational energy reduced by 100% compared to a standard building (on a net annual basis)
  • Project's peak electricity demand reduced 30% below standard building
  • Predicted reduction in potable water consumption of 70% compared to standard building