Unhappy with the acoustics in their winery's 'Viewing Room', Sandhill Winemaker Howard Soon went in search of a solution and in the fall of 2017, the space they use for private tastings was transformed from a highly reverberant but stylish room to a room with the acoustics very much under control. This was 'artfully accomplished using the Primacoustic Paintables™ line of products including a unique application where the panels were printed to serve not only as acoustic attenuators, but also as artwork perfectly suited to the venue.
Sandhill Winery Estate Manager Patricia Leslie explains: "The winery was formerly a cellar storage area for Calona Wines, so it was built to reflect industrial finishings such as concrete floors, glass walls, and metal posts. The cellar space was transformed into an Urban Winery for the Sandhill Wines brand in 2014. The room had very poor acoustics since it had all solid surfaces, so when people were chatting, the sound echoed and guests could not hear what the presenter doing a wine tasting was saying."
The search for a solution came by chance when Soon was attending a musical event in another venue in Kelowna where he was sufficiently impressed with the acoustics of the space to inquire about the integration company responsible. He was connected with Chad Johnson of AVcom Technical in Kelowna who immediately appreciated the importance of finding a remedy for the tasting space: "The wine business is much more than just the wine in the bottle; it is also very much about the hospitality industry and providing a holistic, first class guest experience. Mr. Soon's main concern was how the acoustics of their new winery were impacting their guests' experiences. The main factors for us to consider in this project were, respecting the strong brand image of the company and the stunning aesthetic of the overall venue. Sandhill Winery is a very crisp, modern, industrial-chic space complete with large flat walls and hard reflective surfaces. Every aesthetic detail is by design and you don't walk into that kind of an environment and just stick up some ugly homemade looking acoustic baffle. You have two choices; either make it blend in or make it its own piece of art. Our solution involved both."
Johnson chose the Primacoustic Paintables line of acoustic panels for the unique ability to print high resolution images directly on the panels that look exactly like a blank canvas stretched on a wood frame. "Printing a digital image on the panels opens up a whole new way to implement acoustic treatment. In the Sandhill Winery application there are two main walls; one is floor to ceiling glass and the other is a wood feature wall. Solid coloured panels wrapped in fabric just wouldn't have looked right on the feature wood wall. That's when we got the idea to space the panels out into a large 16:9 layout and put a picture on them that turned them into their own piece of art."
The image used in the hexaptych is of the King Family vineyard on the Naramata Bench (one of six of the Sandhill vineyards). Estate Manager Patricia Leslie had taken the photo with her mobile phone while out on a bike ride and was especially pleased with the result: "It's a great product combining a sound-softening panel and a beautiful graphic ..it's practical art!"
While the printed panels addressed some of the reflections on the wood feature wall, Johnson was challenged to achieve the treatment coverage required to provide full acoustical control of the space and the Paintables again provided the solution: "There were only so many spaces the panels could go. The multiple halogen lights, HVAC ducting, and sprinkler heads meant acoustic clouds were not an option. We had very few options for what we could put up." The available surfaces were also treated with Paintables that will eventually be colour matched to the walls. (This was TBC as of time of publication.) The product allows for a very light coating of matching paint to be applied to the panels without affecting their acoustical properties.
Johnson summarizes his experience of using the product, pointing out the other important advantages beyond the aesthetic: "The ease of the installation hardware, [impalers] and the variety of panel shapes and sizes meant there was a suitable panel for every application. And of course, it's important to note that the panels are engineered and come with documentation on acoustic performance as well as fire and safety code ratings for use in commercial spaces. Overall, it's amazing how a little acoustic work can easily transform a room from unusable into a feature space." Leslie concurs: "Now the room looks more inviting because there is a large vineyard photo featured, and the acoustic panels above the wall of glass work well with the printed panels on the opposite wall to reduce sound reverberation and volume. The space is now more inviting and usable."
With the tasting room complete and the mission a success, it is anticipated this will lead to further treatment of the various spaces in winery.