The Rising and Re-Opening of the Sterling Aerial Gondolas

Napa Valley’s Sterling Vineyards, has been a beloved destination for wine lovers since 1964, thanks to its striking Sterling Gondolas. Despite the obstacles it’s faced in recent years, this iconic attraction has triumphantly reopened its doors, exemplifying an uplifting story of renewal and fortitude. Take a journey with us as we uncover the winery’s fascinating history, the innovative design contributions of SB Architects, and how this cherished project has emerged as a shining beacon of resilience.


A Vision Ahead of Its Time

In 1964, Sterling Vineyards’ founders, Peter Newton and Michael Stone, demonstrated exceptional foresight by establishing the winery on Diamond Mountain when most local wineries were yet to emerge. Sterling Vineyards swiftly gained acclaim for its unique treetop tram ride, leading guests to a white-stucco monolith atop a volcanic knoll in Napa Valley’s northern tip. This aerial experience became a regional icon, consistently welcoming an average of 200,000 visitors annually.

In 2020, the destructive Glass Fires devastated Napa Valley, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake, including damage to the cherished Sterling Vineyards.

Revitalizing Through Thoughtful Architecture

Following a major renovation, Sterling Gondolas has triumphantly reopened its doors. SB Architects has crafted two new stations – one at the arrival and one at the winery – perfectly complementing the Sterling Aerial Gondola by Doppelmayr, elevating the guest experience to new heights.

Paying homage to the winery’s aesthetic, the open-air arrival pavilion at the parking station greets guests as they purchase their tickets to ride, while taking in the stunning surroundings. The stucco walls are a nod to the winery’s original design, the rustic farm-style door on the restrooms adds character, and metal detailing on the canopy seamlessly ties into the Doppelmayr’s aerial gondola.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, visitors are greeted by a compact operations hub at the wine station, featuring a sleek metal canopy that harmonizes with the finish of the Doppelmayr gondola. Wide walkways and ramps escort guests to the wine-tasting pavilion, ensuring a smooth and queue-free experience. Emerging from the station, visitors are treated to an outdoor wine-tasting pavilion with a 360-degree view encompassing the beauty of Napa Valley and the remnants of the Glass Fire. This view serves as a poignant reminder of the region’s resilience and recovery, showcasing how Sterling Gondolas has emerged stronger than ever.

A Symbol of Resilience

Sterling Vineyards is committed to sustainability, with plans to cover 100% of the winery’s energy needs through solar installations. The landscaping, now replanted with drought- and fire-resistant plants, not only underscores a commitment to environmental responsibility but also reflects a dedication to the community.

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