Authentically rustic, relaxed and refined, the design of Elusa Winery is an honest expression of the vineyard lifestyle realized through a refreshing modern lens.

World-class vineyards, laid-back luxurious hospitality, exquisite farm-to-table dining, and the scenic beauty of seemingly endless rolling hills entice travelers from all over the world to return time and again to the famed Napa Valley. It’s no surprise that this California wine country region has been honored among the world’s most extraordinary travel destinations, or that the Four Seasons brand has planted roots here, too.

In November 2021, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley opened its doors in the quaint town of Calistoga, California, making its mark as the region’s first resort, and first-ever Four Seasons property, situated within a working winery. HBA San Francisco played a key role in this history-making moment as the design firm behind Elusa Winery.

The winery and its 4.7-acre vineyard—operated by acclaimed Napa Valley winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown—are located in the Calistoga American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is home to some of the oldest estates in Northern California wine country. It is also situated on a site that is protected by the Vaca Mountains and oak-covered hills, which provide a wonderful sense of seclusion.

Within the site is an assemblage of buildings that are each individually unique in design as if they have been collected and expanded upon over time. For the interiors, HBA San Francisco designers balanced rustic and modern sensibilities between an agrarian influence with earnest details and a sense of scale that is at once impressive and inviting. Finishes are rich and layered with character while an inimitable, well-curated art collection procured by Kevin Barry Art Advisory imbues each space with distinctive personality and local artisanal flavor.

“Similar to the way good wine is connected to the terroir, the interior architecture of Elusa Winery is expressive of the landscape with touches of site-specific history,” said HBA San Francisco Associate Jacob Royster. “With this mindset, we utilized localized materials and local artisans to connect the design of this project to the earth and its surroundings, created with care as the name ‘Elusa’ symbolizes in the native language of the original inhabitants of Napa Valley. The result is a hospitality experience that is contemporary yet also with a communal sense of place.”

The interiors of the visitors’ tasting room are light and airy with soaring, double-height vaulted ceilings. Vertical wood plank walls are painted in a fresh white to complement the warm wood millwork features and to showcase the array of wines. Seating is convivial, with oversized banquettes lining the walls and more intimate arrangements to encourage conversation. Artwork throughout the space is grouped into combinations that explore the history of Napa Valley and celebrate the modern-day Elusa Winery brand.

The color scheme found in the members’ tasting room complements that of the adjacent visitors’ tasting room, but with finishes in darker tones to establish a residential, lounge-like setting. Natural walnut and ebony woods, copper metals, and neutral fabrics with pops of burgundy leather bring a sense of warmth and ease. A suspended copper sculpture at the ceiling adds an element of raw material and connects the notions of earth and wine. Full-height glass doors reveal a view into the barrel room where guests can get a firsthand look at the wine production, storage and aging processes.

“The two tasting rooms, barrel room and wine production space are distinguished by their designs and set a village-like tone for the site. The collection of building types and interiors keeps guests intrigued as they walk the site inside and out,” said HBA San Francisco Senior Project Designer Sarah Hullinger. “The winery seamlessly fits into the resort’s aesthetic but is a one-of-a-kind experience in and of itself.”

Project: Elusa Winery
Location: California, United States
Design Studio: HBA
Photo Credits: Noah Webb