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Not Your Usual Napa Tasting Room

After three years of renovation on a 142-year-old farmhouse, Faust Haus tasting room opens its doors to reveal bright colors, moody nooks, and unique art including a quirky goat-themed tapestry.

By Rachel Gallaher

A midcentury tapestry by Jean Lurcat hangs in one of the rooms at Faust Haus, the new tasting room from Faust Wines in Napa Valley, California. Image by Adrian Gaut.

It’s rumored that the 1878 farmhouse that holds Faust Haus—contemporary tasting room experience from Faust Wines in Napa Valley, California—operated as a speakeasy during the Prohibition years. From the outside, the dark exterior and pointed Victorian roof peaks bring to mind the spooky nooks and crannies of an aging haunted house. But walk through the double doors of the entryway and the only spirit you’ll find is that of Cabernet Sauvignon. The new tasting room, which opened in September, is the result of a three-year renovation by architecture firm Aidlin Darling Design, with interiors by Maca Huneeus Design, and landscape architecture by Surfacedesign, Inc. Rather than go the same ultra-modern route as many tasting rooms in the area—concrete, light wood—the team doubled down on the farmhouse’s history and embraced a bit of moody mystery throughout the space.

“We didn’t want this to be like any other Napa Valley tasting room,” says estate director, Jen Beloz. “We wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible. The Faust folklore is all about the passion for the craft and we’re thrilled to have a home to share that story with guests, also diving deep into what makes our Coombsville estate such an amazing place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon.”

The design for the interiors, led by Maca Huneeus Design, embraces the house's Victorian roots and eschews the modern tasting room look. Image by Adrian Gaut.

The house has registered historic status, so the design team had to work within strict guidelines as to what could be added, altered, or removed. Each room was designed to offer guests a unique experience and created to feel more like a luxurious living room than a traditional tasting room—a place where people would want to hang out for a while and talk, not feel rushed to complete their tasting and move on to the next stop.

“The project was exciting and complex at the same time,” says interior designer Maca Huneeus of Maca Huneeus Design. “This historic Victorian was one of the first wineries ever built in Napa Valley. It was important for us to respect and showcase the historic beauty of the home while bringing it to life in a new and modern way. The character was there but buried under layers of soulless renovations.”

Electric-blue accessories modernize one of the rooms at Faust Haus. Image by Adrian Gaut.

According to Huneeus, the inspiration for the tasting room’s daring interiors came from the idea of the Faustian bargain. (In the medieval legend, Faust made a contract with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.) “The idea of the ‘rebel in the valley’ was always present,” she says. “Napa doesn’t need another corporate tasting room or a neutral-looking country-inspired room. We wanted to have unexpected art and curiosities and create our own Faust cult around the aesthetic. We wanted the interiors and the wine to drink and feel the same way.”

After visiting the David Ireland House in San Francisco, Huneeus felt confident in the design team’s ability to successfully pull off a similar aesthetic leap: bringing in a new aesthetic addition while still preserving the old character. In this case, the carefully considered use of bright colors (electric-blue chairs and lamps), and the smart placement of unpredictable art. The first floor traffics in a more Gothic feel, but as guests head upstairs (a hand-drawn wall mural by Paris-based artist Roberto Ruspoli, a modern twist on ancient fresco techniques, leads the way) the interiors open up and transition to a lighter palette.

A hand-drawn mural by Italian artist Roberto Ruspoli leads guests to the upper level of the house. Image by Adrian Gaut.

“We have friends in common,” says Huneeus, who had previously been familiar with Ruspoli’s work, “so I reached out to him and convinced him to fly to California to do the job. He is a thoughtful artist who will spend days staring at every angle of the space you give him before he grabs a pen and starts drawing freely. The fresco became the backbone of the house. It pulls you from dark to light in a whimsical way.”

Once upstairs, a bright, midcentury atmosphere abounds. It’s an unexpected contrast to the rooms below with white walls and trim and minimal oak furniture. Throughout the entire house, unique art abounds. In addition to the mural by Ruspoli, there is a Jean Lurcat tapestry featuring a jolly jumping goat and custom photography from conceptual fine art photographer Lindsey Ross.

“We knew we wanted a playful unexpected interior where people would meet to drink wine

and hang out,” Huneeus sums it up. “Think of an eccentric cousin with a fabulous and unusual house in the country.” No deals with the devil, or ghosts, required.

The upper level at Faust Haus does a complete 180-degree-turn aesthetically when compared to the first floor. Image by Adrian Gaut.


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