VOL 14: Building A Base Camp In Napa Valley

“The Base Camp hospitality facility has been considerably fitted with materials ranging from red velvet and brass to connect the cellar to the connoisseur.”

The Journal | Vol. 14

The Seven Apart hospitality facility officially opened on October 1, 2021! This is a momentous milestone for our burgeoning winery, which first opened its cellar doors in February 2020. Seven Apart founder Don Dady engaged the help of award-winning interior designers Damon and Julie Savoia of Shawback Design to bring his vision to life. Together with architect James Jeffery, landscape architect Eric Blasen and the builders from Wright Contracting, the team has realized a world-class hospitality facility on Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail. While the winery is not open to the general public, active members of our allocation list have exclusive access to visit.

A Site-Specific Design 

The newly completed Base Camp hospitality facility is a tangible reflection of the land and cellar itself. It has been considerably fitted with materials ranging from red velvet and brass to connect the cellar to the connoisseur. 

“We literally took rocks from the vineyards and brought them back to our office, just to get a sense for the textures and colors that are on the land. We explored the vineyards and tasted the wine. The goal was to bring this sense of place and the winemaking experience through our design elements,” says Damon.

Upon entering, visitors will note that there is hand-troweled plaster across all the interior walls. If you look up, the ceiling is a Cypress-wood that underwent a very special Japanese process of burning called shoshugibon to bring out the grain. Some of the walls are wrapped in stone, feature glass, and steel, or even concrete. According to Julie, every surface offers a texture and all these materials talk to each other to offer a layered experience – much like the wine. 

“Our goal was to extract Don’s vision and make it a reality. Following several meetings together, our process involved visiting the site regularly. This is where we gained a lot of inspiration for the project. In our studio, we compiled material and color palettes and presented them to Don until we were all on the same page,” she explains. 

In a move away from a more traditional Napa Valley tasting room, the design duo wanted the Seven Apart hospitality space to feel like a warm and elegant living room. Their time and effort are visible – quite literally. The space offers an earthy palette of color and beckons visitors through the doors. With the wine cellar as the centerpiece, there is an open-plan lounge on one side and a private tasting room on the other. The pièce de résistance are two magnificent, hand-blown chandeliers.

“Lighting is integral to our design. That’s why we own a lighting company and custom-designed the chandeliers for the main and private rooms. We worked with Vita Pehar who is a lighting designer and was integral to the project. When you walk into the space, the lighting will softly get your attention,” adds Damon.

The Best of American Craftsmanship

The space is also a jewel box of all-American, high-end talent. Almost all the contractors and artists hail from California:

“Every piece in this room is American-made. It was all made by hand, and that’s something we’re very proud of,” reflects Julie.

One of the most impressive pieces is to be found in the private tasting room. It’s an ancient Redwood slab table, pulled out from the Mendocino River. The story is that this thousand-year-old tree was cut down sometime before 1780, and sunk to the bottom of Greenwood Creek deep in the forests of Mendocino County. It remained there for centuries, developing dark mineral streaking in the grain. Eventually, it was pulled out of the river by the city to make way for a bridge. In California, all Redwood trees are protected. It is illegal to cut them down or to remove ‘sinkers’ out the river. So it was particularly fortuitous when a local Mendocino wood supplier was granted permission by the city to make use of this ancient wood. Damon and Julie met with him several times to select the perfect slab. The one they selected features the original ax cut corner, which was intentionally left in place. The result is a private tasting room that offers visitors a true sense of place. 

“I think this one-of-a-kind item mirrors the level of intent in every facet of the facility,” adds Damon. 

Where Everything Matters 

Damon and Julie have been involved with Seven Apart’s development since its inception. A chance meeting at a Christmas party in 2018 laid the groundwork for a fruitful partnership with Don and the team. 

“Both Julie and I immediately felt so good about the energy that Don had, and where he wanted to take the brand. We hit it off, and became involved from the get-go,” opens Damon.

By early 2019, Damon and Julie had begun work on the new Seven Apart production facility. This was duly completed within a year. Next, the construction of a second building on the property to welcome members to and host wine tastings could begin. During the cellar construction Damon and Julie used their time to conceptualize the new guest-facing side with the key players:

“Our design process is very collaborative. Our best projects are a result of a great team, and we basically had the Napa A-team for this process! When everyone strives for excellence, the decisions and final product work out so well,” shares Damon. 

Despite a global pandemic and shelter-at-home orders over the past 18 months, the Seven Apart Base Camp hit the October 2021 completion deadline. This is a testament to the level of dedication from all team players. 

It should come as no surprise that this collaborative approach is much akin to Seven Apart’s winemaking philosophy. Guided by Don’s belief that everything matters, no detail is too small in the pursuit of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. The same can be said of the attention to detail that went into every element of the Base Camp.

“The space may be subtle in design, but it’s unparalleled. The end result is a home that tells the Seven Apart story in a tactile way and elevates the wine to another level,” ends Damon.