clayton korte embeds cavernous winery within excavated stone hillside

Apr 25, 2021

located at the eastern edge of the texas hill country, this private wine cave by clayton korte is nestled into a secluded bend of the blanco river. excavated into the north face of a solid limestone hillside, this shotcrete lined tube is protected on the east and west by tall oak and elm trees, allowing it to nearly disappear within the native landscape. the unassuming exterior entry court reveals a bit of mystery as it provides just a glimpse of what lies within. heavy limestone boulders, collected from the excavation, and lush vegetation further camouflage the entry as you descend into the mouth of the cave.

the design team at clayton korte tucks the wine cave into an 18 foot-tall by 70 foot-deep existing tunnel. the exterior opening of the cave is capped with a board-formed concrete portal that molds to the irregular surfaces of the limestone and structurally retains the mouth of the earth cut. the concrete is meant to patina naturally over time as native moss and ivy clings to the face and climbs onto the flanking limestone walls to further blend the headwall into its surroundings. the program of the winery includes a tasting lounge, bar, wine cellar, and restroom.

inside clayton korte’s wine cave, a study of white oak, both raw and ebonized, mixes with vertical grain douglas fir to panel the walls and dropped ceilings as a warm contrast to more rugged concrete and stone that surrounds. custom insulated and thermally broken steel and wood windows provide separation between the interior and exterior, as well as the entertaining lounge and the chilled cellar. reclaimed cedar was salvaged and milled for live-edged countertop surfaces for the tasting bar and the floating restroom vanity. lead architect brian korte comments: ‘it’s like a ship in a bottle. the components of the wood insert are deliberately kept away from the existing cave walls so that the room remains adaptable.‘

project info:

project title: wine cave

architecture, interiors: clayton korte | @clayton_korte

location: texas hill country

project team: brian korte, camden greenlee, brandon tharp

structural engineer: SSG structural engineers

civil engineer: intelligent engineering services

lighting design: studio lumina

mechanical engineer: positive energy

concrete subcontractor: dash concrete

specialty steel fabrication: fasone and associates

art metalwork: cactus max fine metal artwork

contractor: monday builders

photography: casey dunn