This beautiful example of mid-century modern design resided in Saratoga, CA for 31 years. Designed by Bay Area architect John Savage Bolles, the Paul Masson Champagne Cellars opened in 1959. Bolles was best known for designing Candlestick Park, former home of the San Francisco Giants.
At the time, the Paul Masson Champagne Cellars was considered the most modern winery in the United States.
The entrance to the cellars featured a reception rotunda, pool, and a striking metal sculpture called the Effervescence of Champagne. Created by famed sculptor Gurdon Woods, it symbolized the dancing bubbles associated with champagne. Woods was also the director of the California School of Fine Arts (renamed the San Francisco Art Institute) from 1955 – 1965.
Starting in the visitor’s entrance, you would walk up the spiral ramp while viewing the history of Santa Clara Valley winemaking with a mosaic mural created by Jose Moya del Pino.
I found some grainy footage of the tour experience courtesy of Getty Images.
Once up the ramp, the building had a large catwalk to tour the entire facility, from champagne aging and processing to blending, bottling, and packaging. Tours were free and held daily.
After your tour, you could enjoy champagne in one of the many Bertoia chairs in the tasting hall or view the rare collection of wine vessels, several dating back to 1000 B.C.
Unfortunately, this beautiful property did not last. In 1986, owner Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Inc. moved the plant to the Salinas Valley. Several years later the property was demolished to make room for residences.
The champagne cellars did receive a send-off. On March 10, 1990, Saratoga bid adieu to the property with an event appropriately titled “The Last Pop”. Over 1,000 people attended the festivities on the ramps and lawns of the champagne cellars.
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