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Wine Books: Michael Webb

Webb has over twenty titles, featuring architecture and design, under his belt. His coffee table book, Adventurous Wine Architecture, is his main contribution to the field of wine communication.

Michael WebbAdventurous Wine Architecture (2005)
Michael Webb
Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd
Available from Amazon (UK) and Amazon (USA)
ISBN-13: 978-1920744335

This isn't a wine book, that I am qualified to say. It may not be a book with any information of sufficient depth to interest an architect, either, although there I am not really qualified to comment. But it should interest anyone with a passing interest in form, structure, design, and the capture of said features using nothing more than a camera. In that way, this book certainly does appeal. A joint venture, combining the talents of writer Michael Webb with leading design and architecture photographer Erhard Pfeiffer, this book catalogues, describes and illustrates some of the world's most striking wineries. They are grouped into headings; Expressive Forms, Out of the Earth, Monumental Presence and Rural Vernacular, although to this untrained eye some wineries look as though they would sit comfortably under more than one of these headings. But this, I suppose, like many of the wineries themselves, is open to the interpretation of the individual.

This book will teach you nothing of note about wine, but you may learn a little about pise (pneumatically impacted stabilised earth) and other novel building materials. But, lets face it, this book isn't really about the text, or even the odd interesting floor-plan that is presented. This book is all about the photography, and some of it is quite stunning. And when it features the work of the Gehry Partners (contracted for the Marqués de Riscal and Le Clos Jordan wineries), why shouldn't it be? These are stunning forms, sadly in the book presented as models as their construction has not, at the time of publication, been realised. But some of the wineries that are presented are extraordinary; the Mission Hill winery in Okanagan Valley is so stunningly Orwellian that I struggle to accept the photography represents a real structure; I suspect this was Pfeiffer's intention. I can't deny it; the photography is, in places, superb. For fans of design, this would, I suspect, be a welcome although pricy addition to the coffee table.