One challenge of our south-facing hillside site is the rocky ground, which stores and radiates a lot of heat into the cave. Our aim was to find a design solution to keep the cave cool, minimizing mechanical cooling while providing an elegant finish surface to the walls.


Extracting rock from rugged terrain – a construction challenge, but visible virtue of HOUYI Vineyard soil.


After research and testing, R-10 styrofoam insulation was applied throughout the cave to achieve an ideal temperature. Two layers of insulating panels were hand-affixed, piece-by-piece, across the curved walls in what turned out to be a laborious process due to the stiffness of the panels over a curved surface. Original labor estimates called for two people over two weeks. Thanks to an incredible team, 35 installers completed the project over a 3 month period.


It was unexpectedly quiet inside the cave after the paneling was complete…kind of like a padded cell. No echoes!


A product called Elephant Armor was applied over the insulation panels to create an extremely smooth, high-performance finish.


Here, the near complete cave with wall wash lighting.

Despite challenges in construction, we are thrilled with Elephant Armor’s look and performance. During Summer 2016, in our first harvest on premise, we experienced 100°F weather and stress-tested the chillers. Our cave was able to maintain a constant temperature of 32°F – far below our 55°F optimal target.