5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 5

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 5

We hope that these installments have inspired your landscape design ideas, and brought color and life to the spaces that needed it most! Here is the fifth and final tip to help build outdoor environments and experiences to positively impact your tasting room; thanks for looking!


#5 Design for Change


Flexible Space: Along with a variety of spaces, it is important to allow some spaces to be flexible to allow for several different types of entertainment. Damian Grindley (Brecon Estate) says their most useful space is the lawn area under a group of mature trees. He can change it to overflow seating or activities, but also downsize. June McIvor (Tolosa Winery) likes the flexibility of setting-up outdoor serving bars in different zones of the landscape. Kendall Carson (Halter Ranch) has planned countless events, and she believes electrical outlets are important to have all around the entertaining areas. Whether it is for lighting, a tasting bar, or a band stage, available electricity is very useful. It is impossible to anticipate exactly how a space will be used or changed over time. So, we recommend to build-in flexibility of use so you can make necessary changes both easily and cost effectively.

(Photo by Daniel Mazawa – Tolosa Winery, Tasting Patio)


Pleasant Surprises: People like to return to their special tasting rooms, but they enjoy the excitement of small surprising changes. This is especially true at Brecon Estate where the furniture, art and layout has changed over time as the winery evolves and gains notoriety. They have done it for expanding entertainment area, but also visitors enjoy discovering something new each time, further investing themselves as part of the exclusive club that notices the transitions. Even seasonal changes in the new or existing plants can draw visitors back. A visitor may come in summer and hear about the fall color or the spring wildflowers. Often art displays are paired with the tasting experience, offering another product for purchase while changing over time. These features get visitors to come back again and again, always looking for something new.

(Photo by Megan Savage – Brecon Estate Wines, Entryway Poppies)

Parts 1-4

Part 1: Be Unique & Memorable

Part 2: Make it Feel Special

Part 3: Take Advantage of your Site

Part 4: Create a Variety of Spaces

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 4

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 4

Landscape design plays an important role in the success of your winery. Here is the fourth of five tips to help build outdoor environments and experiences to positively impact your tasting room.

#4 Create a Variety of Spaces


Entertaining Spaces: Most tasting rooms operate best with a variety of different spaces to fit the different preferences of visitors and functions of the winery. If you desire to host large events, a central large patio can be quite useful. However, most tasting room landscapes are a connection of smaller nooks to provide multiple intimate experiences for a large number of visitors. Also, the space becomes a social environment, not feeling empty with small crowds, and feeling comfortable with large crowds. In tip #2 we spoke about visitors liking a special and exclusive experience. A visitor may achieve this by finding their favorite nook in the landscape and returning to that special spot over the years. Everyone is different, so a variety of spaces, furniture, paving patterns, and shrubbery can break a large area into a successful multi-user experience.

(Photo by Valerie Imhof – Halter Ranch, Tasting Room Seating Patio)


User Experience: Preferences of tasting room visitors have interesting trends. Folks that are new to the tasting room experience like to go up to a tasting bar and stand during the tasting. Research shows that experienced tasting room visitors often prefer to sit down in a lounge-type area. They come to relax and unwind, and they don’t feel they are imposing when asking for drinks to be brought to them. These experienced tasters often buy more wine and are more likely to join the wine club. Wineries know this, and design both indoor and outdoor elements to provide ample comfortable seating. Other wineries provide entertainment areas with games or picnicking room. The bottom line is that comfortable seating nooks sell wine.

(Photo by Daniel Mazawa – Brecon Estate Wines, ZinFest 2014)



Tasting Room Logistics: Tasting room landscapes also need to work for the people operating the business. Often the central hub is the main tasting bar, so it is helpful to have visibility of all tasting areas for the attendants to best serve everyone efficiently. Open connection between indoors and outdoors feels good for the visitor, but also makes it easier for servers to navigate while carrying glasses of wine. It is crucial to speak with the tasting room staff to know how to best orchestrate the activities of the business.

(Photo by Megan Savage – Chronic Cellars, Tasting Room Patio)




Miss a beat? We got you covered!

Part 1: Be Unique & Memorable

Part 2: Make it Feel Special

Part 3: Take Advantage of your Site

Giving Back: El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO)

Giving Back: El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO)

Who knew stewardship felt so good?

No matter where you live, you make an impact. For communities to function well over time, conscious efforts must be made by many to contribute to the positive impact toward the development of that community, or else who will?  That is stewardship. We recognize this at Madrone Landscapes, and try to do our part.  http://madronelandscapes.com/about-us/stewardship/.

One recent effort that Madrone participated in was the design and installation of a low-impact landscape at El Camino Homeless Organization(ECHO). ECHO is a non-profit organization with a 50-bed transitional shelter helping families and individuals find permanent housing within three months of entering the facility. The organization is located on the Central Coast of California serving North San Luis Obispo County, and you can read more about their efforts here.

Working with ECHO’s Board of Directors, Madrone came together with community volunteers and students from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. The Madrone team and volunteers installed shade trees, screening, and a drought tolerant, native plant pallet. A quarter acre of fruit trees including apples, peaches, plums and figs were planted and a raised vegetable garden was also installed to make the most of what the facility has to offer.

Over two weekends of fun and hard work, Madrone’s general manager, Daniel Mazawa, led the charge with the help of Cal Poly professor Christie O’Hara and Rainscape manager, Victor Rocha, as 60 volunteers transformed the space into an aesthetically pleasing and functional landscape. Prior to the planting and mulching, Madrone’s build team graded the area, installed the irrigation and assembled all the needed materials. Local businesses donated irrigation parts, soil amendments and mulches. A little bit of conscious stewardship can make a big difference, and the benefits  of this project will “ECHO” for years to come.  The smiles say it all!

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 3

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 3

Here is the third of five tips to help build outdoor environments and experiences to positively impact your tasting room!

#3: Take Advantage of Your Site


Views: Vineyard architecture and vineyard landscapes often take advantage of the natural and agricultural surroundings. Damian Grindley (Brecon Estate) believes there is an intriguing contrast between the native California landscape and the “engineered lines” created by the vines in a vineyard. This look is so iconic that most vineyards will highlight sweeping views of vines and rolling native hills at their tasting room. When you have stunning views on your site, you can “borrow” them by using minimal landscape elements in front of the best vistas, or use trees to “frame” the view. These are great ways to maximize your landscape budget, since views of vines and hills can do much more for you than almost any landscape element.

(Photo by Valerie Imhof – Brecon Estate Wines, Vineyard View)


Shade: Most visitors come to wineries in the summertime, and shade is very important here on the central coast of California. Trees, pergolas, and umbrellas provide cozy, snug areas for people to relax and enjoy the warm weather in a nature’s lounge room. If there are existing large trees, use them to create a natural comfortable area that people will gravitate towards.

(Photo by Megan Savage – Epoch Winery, Tasting Room)





Architecture: Often the vineyard architecture is already defined by the theme, so it is important to blend with the architecture of the building as much as the surroundings. Compliment the style with use of hardscape and planting to make the building more impressive. Some tasting room architecture will try and blend into the California landscape, and the landscape design should also focus on the surroundings. Some tasting rooms will be a monument standing out from nature, so the landscape design must emphasize the awe of the architectural form, while transitioning to the surroundings.

(Photo by Valerie Imhof – Law Estate Wines, Tasting Room)



Missed a section? Here are parts 1 and 2!

Part 1: Be Unique & Memorable

Part 2: Make it Feel Special

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 2

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 2

Landscape design plays an important role in the success of your winery. Here is the second of five tips to help build outdoor environments and experiences to positively impact your tasting room.

# 2   Make it Feel Special

A Special Treat: New and returning visitors to your winery need to feel that being at your tasting room is a treat. This can be described as a “wow factor”, or an unexpected glimpse into the mind of the winery. A variety of approaches can be used, but usually involves integration of unique features. Consider using outdoor art, paving patterns, colorful plantings, showcasing natural settings, or creating areas with a high-end luxury theme. Thoughtful selection of lounge-type furniture or intimate outdoor spaces can give customers a feeling of luxury not found at home. These elements lend well to developing a positive social environment created by your winery following. Kendall Carson (Halter Ranch) says that tasting rooms need to feel inviting, and be in tune with the property and surroundings, but also provide a “special feature” that makes guests want to plan another trip back.  In the end, this translates to more wine sales and more wine club members.

(Photo by Megan Savage: Tolosa – Kinetic Sculpture)


Exclusive: Many Central Coast wineries strive to give their customers a sense of being part of an exclusive club. Since our wine region is relatively new on the map, visitors realize they have found something special, by uncovering a gem in a beautiful pristine area. It will be interesting to watch the trends as the area is quickly gaining notoriety for exceptional wine and lifestyle.

(Photo by Valerie Imhof: Halter Ranch – Tasting Room View)


Missed last week’s post? We got you covered!

Part 1: Be Unique & Memorable

Meet the Team: Megan Savage and Ian Parker

Meet the Team: Megan Savage and Ian Parker

To kick off our new “Meet the Team” segment, we are highlighting the dynamic duo Megan Savage and Ian Parker from the Design Crew! Ian Parker is the Sales Manager at Madrone, and has more than 10 years of field installation and design experience. Megan is one of Madrone’s Landscape Designers, and has years of technical and design experience behind her. Together, they cover the whole spectrum of the design experience, designing for San Luis Obispo county and North Santa Barbara county. Here is what they told us when we asked about working together as the core design crew:

How long have you worked at Madrone? How long have you worked with each other? 

Meg: I started working at Madrone about 2 weeks after I graduated from Cal Poly, and I have been here for just over a year now. I started working with Ian when he switched from the construction side to the design side of the office.

Ian: I’ve been at Madrone for close to 6 years now – mostly as a Project Manager with our Construction Department, and now as a Designer and Sales Rep.  I’ve been working alongside Megan for the past year.

What is unique about the working relationship with each other?

M: We have similar personalities but different skills. We are constantly encouraging each other and bouncing ideas and questions off one another which makes our office a fun, productive space. We both have a unique approach to our designs. My skillset lies more in the graphic details and technical drafting, whereas Ian has great design skills plus a vast knowledge of building and installation techniques. Between the two of us, I feel like we can design anything and find a way to install it in the landscape.

I: Megan and I work together well because we have a real complimentary skill set, and I think we’re both driven by our passion for creating beautiful spaces and making clients smile.  She’s a great designer, and amazing with the technical stuff, and I’ve built enough landscapes to know what will work well and how to bring concepts to life. Together i think we cover the whole spectrum of design experience.

How many projects have you collaborated on?

M: All of them since Ian started in this office. I can’t think of one that we haven’t had one another take a second look at for some aspect of the design!

I: We collaborate on every design. We’re always asking for a second opinion on layout or discussing plant choices or building techniques.  I know I can be my own worst critic at times, so having someone to approve my ideas and offer encouragement is awesome.

Which two projects were most successful?

M: I feel like every design we have done is successful in its own way.  Some are feats of technical detailing, some are just incredibly laid out with gorgeous plant palettes, and some simply made our client smile and go outside more – in my book, all of these traits (and more) could be considered successful.

I: I think all of our projects have been successful, and we have quite a few projects that we’ve collaborated on scheduled for construction this coming summer and fall. I’ve had a lot of fun working with her to build 3-D models of some of our more involved designs.  It’s amazing how much seeing a 3-D model can do for a client’s confidence – I mean, this stuff just wasn’t available when I was in design school.

What do you most appreciate about working with each other?

M: Ian’s support and mentorship. I had no construction experience when I started here and I feel like I am constantly learning from his skillset every time we look at a new project. If I hit walls with design ideas or have a lacking creative moment he always helps me find a way to see my site differently so I can work through it.

I: I really appreciate Megan’s energy and passion for her clients and their projects.  She really wants to help them make their home a place that they love, and it shows in all of her designs and interactions with clients. Side Note: She also has this strange power that allows her to stare at my computer and make it behave when it’s acting up… short of buying a new computer, I don’t know what I’d do without that!

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 1

5 Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms – Blog Series Part 1

Landscape design plays an important role in the success of your winery. Here is the first of five tips to help build outdoor environments and experiences that positively impact your tasting room; check back next week for another tip!

#1   Be Unique and Memorable

Successful wineries develop a unique, one-of-a-kind brand identity. Branding themes can be artsy, luxury, pastoral, mom and pop, contemporary, natural, exclusive, or fun. Wineries often will include a blend of themes to create a distinct tasting experience.


For Example…


Brecon Estate Wines

Driving through the Paso Robles Adelaida zone, you will see many wineries with walls incorporated into their landscape architecture. When we designed and installed the wall at Brecon Estate, we knew it needed to be different from the others. Our Madrone Landscapes team elected to build a serpentine “Andrew Goldsworthy” style wall. This blended a feeling of contemporary oasis in a rustic vineyard setting, making it unique to this winery’s experience. The blend of outdoor open spaces and secluded zones work well and is site specific according to owner Damian Grindley. The contemporary flair combined with the countryside ambiance helps make customers feel at home. Damian describes the space as having a “relaxed Central Coast” vibe that appeals to a variety of customers. As a newer winery, this no-pressure, casual home-style atmosphere is a great way to build wine club membership and allow customers to take part in a new, exclusive experience.



Halter Ranch Vineyard

 At another Paso Robles area winery, Halter Ranch Vineyard, the Madrone Landscapes team played off the pastoral farmland experience defined by the historic nature of the site. Kendall Carson of Halter Ranch describes it as an “Elegant Ranch” theme. We used bold masses of showy grasses, large trees, and vineyard connection to emphasize this theme. We also took advantage of the unbelievable view-sheds and wide-open spaces to make it feel larger than life. In some ways the vineyard architecture and vineyard landscape theme are very simple: Wood, stone, steel, vines, and oaks. The first glance at the grounds is stunning and remarkable, ingrained in the visitor’s memory. At closer look, very fine craftsmanship and art keep customers coming back to discover something new.






Tolosa Winery: Located in the Edna Valley near San Luis Obispo, the re-branding of Tolosa Winery was the story behind this landscape renovation. The winery made a very clear decision to make the brand more luxury, exclusive, and high end in both the wine making and the ambiance. As far as landscape, this meant changing over from open lawn areas to smaller intimate elegant areas under full grown olive trees, stone and rock. The environment is high end, but not stiff, and is very comfortable. General Manager, June McIvor describes it as “driving a Ferrari wearing jeans and flip flops.” The re-branding has been a success for the winery and visitors alike.


Houzz Announces Best Of Houzz 2016 Winners

Houzz Announces Best Of Houzz 2016 Winners

Annual Survey and Analysis of Community of Over 35 Million Monthly Users Reveals the Top-Rated Home Remodeling Professionals and Most Popular Home Designs. Houzz Inc., the leading platform for home renovation and design, today announced the community’s picks for Best Of Houzz 2016 in North America, a homeowner-to-homeowner guide to the top home buildersarchitectsinterior designers, landscape pros and other residential remodeling professionals on Houzz from cabinetry or roofing pros to painters.

“Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented, competent and service-oriented professionals,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to join our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts in recognizing our “Best Of Houzz” professionals around the world.”

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of recent client reviews. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award.

Madrone Landscapes placed Best of Houzz 2016 for Design and Best of Houzz 2016 for Service. Check out http://www.houzz.com/pro/madronelandscapes/madrone-landscapes

Changing the California Landscape

Changing the California Landscape

Changing the California Landscape

An Autumn Roundup of Local Landscape Conversions

Written by Daniel Mazawa

Designer and Estimator, Madrone Landscapes

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a movement towards a new California landscape.  After a century of following trends in both England and east coast gardens, we are developing a Californian identity in our landscapes that speaks to our environment, our climate, and our available resources.

The limited availability of water has forced our hands to look to both our native California plants and those of Mediterranean regions of the world for inspiration in the landscape.  It is a common misconception that drought tolerant landscapes need to look like desert scenes from the southwest.  Our landscapes can be lush, usable, and beautiful, while still being low maintenance and drought tolerant.  Both Paso Robles and Atascadero have been successful in assisting home and business owners to reduce their water use with combined landscape rebates of over $36,000.00.  More funding is available to property owners, within the city limits, who want to reduce their water use.  Funding is limited and on a first come, first serve basis.

The emphasis on converting the California landscape to a more sustainable and drought tolerant status revolves around the removal of unnecessary lawns.  Lawns use a very high amount of water and require high maintenance.  It is important to note that lawns have great utility in the landscape when used for sports or play; however, if they are used simply for aesthetics they may be unnecessary.  As general rule:  “If the only person who uses the lawn is the one who mows it, it is not worth the resources to maintain it.” (Rick Mathews, Business Owner, Madrone Landscapes).  Many plants can be used to give the lush green look we all strive for, but with much less water and maintenance.

In order to help home and business owners use lawn alternatives, both the City of Paso Robles and the Atascadero Mutual Water Company (AMWC) have devised monetary incentives.  Both municipalities have programs to offer up to $500.00 for removing irrigated turf and replace it with a drought tolerant landscape.  For the do-it-yourself homeowner, this may pay for the whole project.  For those who hire landscape professionals, an overdue brand new landscape will be more affordable.

The AMWC is offering additional rebates for using more efficient irrigation products.  Just changing the nozzle on your sprinkler system can greatly increase its efficiency, thereby reducing your water use.  MP Rotator nozzles are the latest sprinkler innovation.  They are compatible with most spray head sprinklers and can be used increase the uniformity of sprinkler coverage and reduce runoff.  “Overspray from irrigation deteriorates our streets and carries pollutants from our cars into our storm drains and creeks.” (Jaime Hendrickson, Conservation Manager, AMWC)  Asphalt deterioration due to huge amounts of wasted irrigation sprinkler runoff is causing one Atascadero neighborhood to look at astronomical fees needed to fix their damaged streets.  Local home and business owners must also take note that runoff on sidewalks during a freeze can create a slick ice hazard for passers by.

The AMWC is also giving rebates for smart irrigation controllers.  Smart irrigation controllers can be in the form of new controllers or a retrofit part for your existing controller.  They measure solar intensity, rainfall, or soil moisture daily to water exactly to you plants needs.  Without this component, it is common for landscapes to be overwatered in the winter, spring, and fall; and underwatered on the hottest days of summer.

There is a long list of drought tolerant plants that can be used as a lawn instead of the more common water-loving turf grasses.  Right now, most of these options cost more than a common sod product, but they can be a great, usable lawn.  Two grasses we use regularly for this are Carex praegracilis (Meadow Sedge) and Carex glauca (Blue Sedge).

More commonly, lawns can be replaced with beautiful botanical display of colors and textures to create a signature California landscape aesthetic.  Choosing the right plants for the location is best left to an expert, but as a homeowner, there are some great resources and events available for inspiration.  The Autumn Garden Tour is a yearly event put on by the Atascadero Mutual Water Company, and more information is available at www.amwc.us.  This tour is an opportunity to see private gardens that have creative solutions for saving water.

2010 North County Rebate Roundup

Turf Conversion Rebates:

Paso Robles:

Square Feet of Turf Removed:              45,537

Number of Rebated Projects:                      52

Total Dollars Rebated:                         $18,766.84

Average Rebate:                                 $360.90

Rebate Rate:                                      $0.50 per Square Foot*

Maximum Rebate per Customer:           $500.00


Square Feet of Turf Removed:              47,000

Number of Rebated Projects:                     43

Total Dollars Rebated:                         $15,000.00

Average Rebate:                                 $348.84

Rebate Rate:                                      $0.25 per Square Foot*

Maximum Rebate per Customer:           $500.00

*Square footage refers to sprinkler-irrigated turf converted to a drought tolerant landscape.

MP Rotator Sprinkler Nozzle Conversion Rebates:


Number of Converted Nozzles:              600

Number of Rebated Projects:                  25

Total Dollars Rebated:                     $1,800.00

Average Rebate:                                 $72.00

Rebate Rate:                                       $3.00 per Nozzle*

*Number of existing sprinkler nozzles replaced with more efficient MP Rotators.

Smart Controller Rebates:


Number of Rebated Smart Controllers:      600

Number of Rebated Projects:                     12

Total Dollars Rebated:                        $1,200.00

Average Rebate:                                   $100.00

Rebate Rate:                                        $100.00 per Smart Controller*

*Contact Atascadero Mutual Water Company for applicable Smart Controller options.

The preceding data from the City of Paso Robles was collected from February 21, 2010 to September 22, 2010.

The preceding data from the Atascadero Mutual water Company was collected from January 1, 2010 to September 22, 2010.

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