The Steinbach cellar is located underneath a typical farmhouse of Southern Styria, which goes back to the year 1770 and originally also served as a living space in addition to its winemaking functions. While the cellar rooms reach deep into the slope of the hills toward the east, the lower floor opens up toward the west, looking outward across the sloping hills of Steinbach valley.
At the centre of the redesigned cellar space is the sales and tasting zone, which is accessed via a central entrance in the west façade. The front part of the L-shaped customer area is furnished with thematic mobile carts, which, arranged to meet the needs of the day, allow for a flexible use of this zone. Made from elm wood and brass, they offer several functions to the visitor, all focusing on wine: a book cart prompts one to read journals and magazines; a water cart to enjoy a drop of natural spring water; and a produce cart offers free tastings of honey, verjuice, or spirits distilled at the winery.
Deeper down in the Steinbach cellar, the focus is entirely on wine. Light beams falling onto the wine counter from above guide the taster’s attention to the product in the glass. The backbone of the counter is a long and narrow wine cooler that also includes a water well. The petrol wall colour running along this piece of furniture reaches up to the ceiling, resulting in a protected atmospheric space for the tasters.
A wall shelving made up of U-shaped walnut elements filled with wine bottles and boxes links the tasting area to the adjacent magnum space. A mystical lighting lends the big bottles stored here the value they deserve. Clean-cut lamps dangle from the ceiling at different heights, above the wooden beam of an old lever press in the middle of the room, indicating the diversity of bottles stored here, from the Magnum to the Balthazar formats.
The barrel cellar is located at the junction between the ancient farmhouse cellar and the production area built in 2001. The deep and narrow space set in the surrounding soil is ideal for storing wine in big wooden casks for several months. This interface where workers and visitors meet required a balanced perspective from both sides. The dark barrel cellar is visible from the customer area through a glass door with a massive larch wood frame and immersed in atmospheric light from a central row of tent-shaped lampshades. On working days, an old cast-iron cellar door behind the glass door shields the tasting room from the harsher working lights.
Following the axis of the tasting room northwards, passing through the ancient cellar entrance, are the wine archives from where the upper floor is accessed via a connecting room. Here, a rib of the tunnel vault was dismantled in order to make room for a steel staircase. Anchored in the ceiling, it keeps a respectful distance to the cellar floor, an autonomous object that adds a touch of illusionism to the building.
In the rearmost and most ancient part of the building, a vaulted cellar with coarsely plastered stone walls around a metre thick is now home to the wine archives. This impressive room houses a collection of choice and rare wines from the past decades.