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Czech News in English » Life » From carpenter workshop to hip wine store

From carpenter workshop to hip wine store

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Architects Rostislav Černík and Ivana Dombková in Černík's favourite corner on the highest level of Wines Home. (PETRA POKORNÁ)Architects Rostislav Černík and Ivana Dombková in Černík’s favourite corner on the top level. (PETRA POKORNÁ)

Wines from European countries and other parts of the world have settled in Prague in a new, recently opened venue aptly called Domov vína/Wines Home. Besides combining good wine and modern architecture, the industrial space also has ambitions to become home to art and good food.

Domov vína, which was rebuilt from an early twentieth century carpenter workshop by the architecture studio Design by Donlić owned by Ivana Dombková and Rostislav Černík, opened in November last year. The authors of the reconstruction project turned a decaying building in the courtyard of an apartment block in Prague’s Old Town into a modern multi-functional space and opened the shop together with Czech ice-hockey goalkeeper Roman Čechmánek, a wine connoisseur.

Combining wine and modern design
Under communism, the space served as a teaching facility for apprentices. In 2005, Design by Donlić won a tender called by the city with its project to reconstruct the place into a multi-functional space. The reconstruction was then launched in the spring of 2007.

The idea to combine modern design and good wine came only a year later, when the reconstruction was already under way. In January 2008, Rostislav Černík and Ivana Dombková went to see a wine shop at a vineyard in Langenlois, Austria, which had been built by three wine-making families. That was where they decided to incorporate the function of a wine shop and a cellar in their plan for the new venue.

“We wanted our project to have some “day” function too,” Černík said. The new idea of a place where customers could taste good wines and then buy a bottle or two ended up complementing the original idea to combine architecture with art, and to rent the space for various conferences, company parties and other similar events.

While rebuilding the workshop, Černík and Dombková had to fulfil the requirements of preservationists to keep the building’s outer walls and the tall factory chimney that protrudes slightly above the houses surrounding the yard, as well as the original character of the old workshop. The architects took advantage of this condition and enhanced the “workshop look” of the place by preserving crude brick walls and using large industrial windows.

The biggest problem during the rebuilding were thus not the preservationists, but the limitations as to when and what construction work can be done, especially with regards to noise, Černík said. The total cost of the reconstruction, including the interior equipment, ended up reaching CZK 51 million.

Spacious, multi-functional, flexible
The interior space of Wines Home adds up to 600 square meters, and, together with the showroom of Design by Donlić studio in the front part of the space, it covers some 900 square metres. It can fit as many as 250 people.

       Photos courtesy of Domov vína

It is designed as one spacious room spreading over four floor levels, with several large sofas and armchairs placed on three of them. On the top level there is a gallery, which right now has Alsace landscapes by photographer František Zvardoň on display (see Alsace days in Wines Home below). An air-conditioned wine room in the middle of the main level, designed and produced by Design by Donlić like most of the interior, has a constant temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. This floor also includes a bar, a kitchen unit with a large table, a small room with glass walls that functions as an office, and wood and metal wine racks on wheels.

The whole space is flexible, as many items can be moved around to suit different purposes. “If the shelves were moved out, and we put a bed here instead, the whole space could function as a flat. It could be anything,” said Černík.

The venue is non-smoking except for a room specifically designed for cigar lovers. In the room placed on one of the lower levels, cigars are on display in showcases and smokers can try different kinds, seated in armchairs behind a glass wall, that separates the room from the rest of the interior. Wines Home also has two outdoor terraces open to both smokers and non-smokers.

The owners say their project stands apart from other wineshops around the world in that it is intended to be more than just a shop. “It doesn’t call to mind the image of a shop, but rather of an undefined space. It surpasses everything and that’s why it seems unusual,” said Černík. He recalled a 75-year-old sommelier from California who said he had never seen a similar venue anywhere else in the world.

Sommelier in place of a wine list
Instead of a wine list, which would be very long here, a sommelier who can recommend wines based on one’s preferences and requirements is on hand.

“If the shelves were moved out, and we put a bed here instead, the whole space could function as a flat,” says Černík. (PETRA POKORNÁ)

“Sometimes people fear that a bottle of wine may cost CZK 100,000 here, but it’s not true. Anyone can come here, taste a glass of wine for CZK 50 and buy a bottle of amazing wine for CZK 160,” said Martina Chlumecká, Wines Home’s publicity and event manager said.

The owners place emphasis on European wines, but Chilean or Argentinean wines are here as well. Wines Home is planning to eventually have every European wine-producing country represented in their offer, including the less common Croatian, Bulgarian or Greek wines. Because wine becomes more expensive when it has to go through many intermediaries in the distribution chain, the owners are planning to import wines by themselves to save costs.

Alsace days
Wines Home plans to host a variety of events ranging from exhibitions, wine-tasting, concerts, conferences, company parties and cooking classes. Each week is dedicated to a particular wine region from which they offer a selection of white, red and rosé wines by the glass. Soon, each Monday, Zdeněk Reimann, a wine expert, will host pre-booked wine tastings for approximately CZK 300.

The main event planned for near future, however, is the Alsace Days scheduled for 27-30 April focused on introducing in person four small wine producers from a relatively unknown region. The event is backed by both the Embassy of France in Prague and the Prague City Hall and will also be attended by the representatives from Alsace Wine Committee (CIVA). In preparation for the event photos by Czech photographer František Zvardoň, who has been living in Alsace for more than 20 years, are on display at the gallery on the top foor. The photographs depict the Alsace region and are taken through the glas of a wine bottle. Along with the photos a French artist who designs wine labels for one of the Alsace wine producers will have her works on display during the event. Also on hand will be a French chef presenting traditional food from the region, jazz music every night and a wine-tasting on Wednesday.

Wines Home/ Domov vína, Bílkova 13, Praha 1

Open Mon-Sat from 11am to 9pm.

From carpenter workshop to hip wine store image 25Petra Pokorná
is a staff writer and translator at the Monitor. She
likes writing about local food shops.
You can reach her at [email protected]

From carpenter workshop to hip wine store image 26Barbara Bindasová
is a staff writer and translator at the Monitor. She
is a graduate student of literature at Charles University.
You can reach her at [email protected]

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