The Concept

Adhering to the belief that form follows function, Shale Oak was built by a carefully crafted team. While each individual is a strong expert in her/his respective field, the group was able to synergistically come together to plan, plant and build a vineyard, winery and tasting room that would have very low impact on the surrounding environment.

Mesa Vineyard Management

Founded over 20 years ago, Mesa Vineyard Management is not only a leader in developing Paso Robles’ reputation for growing quality winegrapes, but they are on the forefront of promoting sustainable farming practices. A founding member of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, the organization played an integral role in the creation of the SIPTM Certified Sustainable program. Knowing he would be a natural fit for owner Al Good’s project, it was the folks at Mesa that introduced Al to winemaker Kevin Riley. Mesa worked with the entire team to integrate the vineyard with all systems, and is responsible for farming both of Shale Oak’s vineyards.

Kevin Patrick Riley

Kevin Riley, a well-known and experienced Paso Robles winemaker, teamed up with owner Al Good when he first came to the area. Their shared vision of making high quality Paso Robles wine in the most sustainable manner possible made them fast allies. Kevin was instrumental in helping Al put together an entire team of knowledgeable professionals, ultimately bringing the concept to reality.

Kevin is passionate about every step of the winemaking process, from the vineyard, to the winery, to the bottling line. He is a consummate blender, but also enjoys making single varietal wines.

Studio2G Architects

As he set out to begin building Shale Oak Winery, it was imperative that owner Al Good first find an architecture firm that matched his goal of building a winery and tasting room that took the natural elements of his site into consideration. He found just that in Studio2G.

Dedicated to providing a quality product, Studio2G strives to find a harmonious balance between a design aesthetic, the client’s intentions, the workings of the built world, and an understanding of the natural environment. As they got to know Al and to better understand his vision, an avant-garde architectural style was proposed, as well as LEED Certification with a goal of achieving “Silver” Certification. Special care was taken to design the buildings and the site with great sensitivity to the existing environment.

Above Grade Engineering

Above Grade’s focus was on designing a comprehensive water plan for the entire site, and coordinating and connecting it with systems put in place by other members of the team.

In order to make best use of rainwater, a bioswale was recommended and installed. It allows vegetation to use the water, encouraging it to percolate back into the ground instead of running off site and affecting streams and creeks. To capture any increased runoff, a basin area was created in the lowest corner of the property. Water is pumped from it to holding tanks for landscape and vineyard irrigation, supplementing wells that tend to get low toward the end of the season. This reclaimed water is also used for toilet flushing.

In addition to designing other elements of water reuse, Above Grade recommended concrete and decomposed granite in parking and driving areas. These materials are lighter than black pavement, reflecting light rather than creating hot spots, and the decomposed granite lets water back into the ground instead of running off.

In Balance Green Consulting

Brought on board to manage the complicated LEED Certification process, In Balance also provided energy modeling and daylight analysis. They worked closely with Studio2G, as well as with Thoma Electric and Brummel Myrick Engineering, in the early stages of the design process to best optimize the buildings’ performance.

Windows, insulation, lighting, and mechanical equipment were meticulously researched and selected for energy efficiency. Solar photovoltaic panels generate about one third of Shale Oak’s energy needs. Time of use is taken into account, and the balance will be purchased from renewable resources. Daylight modeling was used to design both the winery and tasting room buildings; windows and sun tubes almost completely eliminate the need for electric lights during the day. Additionally, the sun tubes have dampers that block daylight into the winery when the rooms are not occupied.

Elutriate Systems

As water treatment and reclamation are critical elements to a sustainably built winery, a highly experienced engineering firm specializing in the design, installation and service of wastewater systems was hired. Elutriate Systems designed and installed a cutting-edge bioreactor system.

They also implemented the plan put forth by Above Grade Engineering, including a rain harvesting plan, water run-off reclamation system, and reverse osmosis system. These all work in concert to treat winery wastewater, convert it to compost tea, and use it for landscape irrigation. Also to collect and reuse rainwater as well as water run-off, and send to holding tanks for later use, generally minimizing the draw on the land.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Brought to the Shale Oak project by Studio2G, Jeffrey Gordon Smith runs a think tank type creative firm. Based on the concept of “Regionalism” which considers all surrounding influences when developing a plan, they literally designed Shale Oak’s landscape from the ground up. Using native plants and a complete native palatte, the finished design celebrates the natural aspects of the winery and plays on all four seasons, highlighting qualities in each.  A few of the sustainable design features are a native bioswale, native wild flower and grass meadow, and an aqueduct-like water feature that uses recycled water in respectful proportion. The latter was included to not only be aesthetically enjoyed, but to actually demonstrate the elutriate water system.