By Claudio Ponte

Whenever I come to the winery I get the strangest questions: The other day a lady came to me and said she was sorry we’d decided to paint the hotel black. At a loss for words, I thought to myself: How can I give a polite response? What I wanted to say was: “Yeah, we are mourning the death of common sense…”

As a matter of fact the building was black only temporarily. As can be seen from the photos the black paper and lath are covered with a thick layer of cement called a “brown coat”.

Note the color of the external window and door trim. We struggled with a choice but are happy with this bluish green. The inside trim is stained wood.

Our hard-working crew is busy applying the brown coat. A high pressure pump sprays the product which sticks to the lath (the wire mesh). This layer has to cure and dry for 10 days or so before we apply the final coat of colored stucco. If the stucco is applied too early it will crack. The great weather has helped the process, and unless it rains we should be done with the exteriors in a week or so.

In this photo, the brown coat has been up for 8 or 9 days and is ready to receive the color coat. The windmill, one of our sustainability features (it powers the pond aerators), can be seen in the distance.

The construction site for this Temecula winery inn is the messiest since we started-which is normal for this phase. The brown coat overspray is everywhere, and has accumulated several inches deep all around the hotel. There are nails and bits and pieces of “stuff” everywhere.

Meanwhile the dry wallers, who are almost done, have left masses of trim all over the place. The electricians, air conditioner guys, tile-layers and kitchen installers are also doing their part to increase the mess.

The quality of the work is very good, as nice as I’ve seen on a wine country hotel anywhere. The tile work in the large bathrooms is especially impressive and the attention to detail very evident in the cuts and how the tiles are laid out so the seams fall in the right place.

This next photo shows the towers framing the hotel façade, with fresh brown coat on the left, and a dry section on the right. The final color will be very much lighter, but will still be in the same tonality as the brown coat. The towers will be clad in stone with heavy grouting.

The brown domes (bottom left) will be tiled and hoisted to the top of the towers. They will look like this, except with a zig-zag design:

The area in the photo with the domes will be planted with olive trees and vineyard. The winery is just behind the hotel and is separated from it by a vineyard.

In next week’s blog I’ll show some photos of the lobby areas and the suites, which are now dry walled. I might be able to share some more details on the Cellar Lounge, which will be insanely cool.

Best and thanks for the support.