Well, the outdoor wining and dining area we long dreamed about is finally a reality. For years we here at Basignani have wanted a more permanent and substantial place for our customers to enjoy our wine al fresco, and our beautiful new patio area is now ready for the summer season. If you have visited Basignani Winery in the past, you may remember the sloping grass space - which was often covered by a tent - between the tasting room and the brick pizza oven. That area has been leveled out, covered in crushed blue stone, and highlighted with steps of granite and natural stone walls. The green circus-striped relic that shaded the grassy area for years (and was beloved by our founder), has been replaced by a crisp and clean white tent. This new tent covers and shades the larger lower portion of our new two level patio area. After much discussion and planning, we are very pleased with the final result.
You might be surprised to learn, that even with a small family owned business like Basignani Winery, it is often difficult to agree on what needs to be done and what changes should be made. Even though we aren't a large corporation, and don't have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors, the involved family members often have differing opinions on what changes the winery should make, as well as how and when to make them. We needed to consider how we were going to level the area - cut into the uphill side, elevate the downhill side, or some combination of the two. We had to decide how large the area would be, how it would integrate with our current traffic flow, and what materials we would use. We had to find a professional to help us with the engineering and design, as well as a stone mason to handle the foundation and block work. Thankfully, we had Ben Mentzer and Bert Basignani. Ben is Elena Basignani's husband, and is responsible for most of the physical operations of the winery. Ben has a background in both contracting and landscaping, so he was the perfect man for the job. Of course 'the boss' Bert Basignani has over 40 years of construction experience, so that was also advantageous. While the two of them sorted out the structural details, the rest of us chipped in with ideas and opinions about the aesthetics. Ben and Bert eventually found landscape architect Jack Leonard from JGL Design Associates to survey the ground and draw up a plan, and then decided on Vachino Masonry to handle the foundation, block and stone work. We were ready to begin.
We considered using concrete block for the walls, as the cost would have been significantly less, but 'the boss' insisted we use stone. Some decisions at Basignani aren't democratic, this was one of those decisions. As is often the case, there is no substitute for experience. Even those of us skeptical about the increased cost now realize that Bert's edict was absolutely correct. We used a combination of Butler stone salvaged from past construction projects and Black Rock stone sourced from the property. On seeing the finished product, we all realize it couldn't have been done any other way. The granite steps were also salvaged and sourced from left-over material already on the property, Ben jokingly said they were 'a joy to work with'. Another decision we faced was whether or not to put a railing around the raised lower level. Our initial feeling was that it wasn't necessary, but as the project developed and we were able to better envision the finished product, we realized it would be a nice addition. We think the wrought iron railing provides a comfortable feeling of enclosure and is aesthetically pleasing as well. As we neared completion, a last cosmetic question remained - what type of tent should we use? On this point, Bert acquiesced to the democratic process. He would have preferred another striped tent, but allowed us to go with the simpler covering the majority of us favored.